Superintendent Bill Husfelt: “I don’t want our schools to feel like prisons, with armed guards in every hallway, but clearly our children deserve the additional security of at least one armed officer on each campus.”
ERYN DION News Herald Reporter @PCNHErynDion
PANAMA CITY — As the state and nation still are grappling with the tragedy of the Parkland school shooting, Superintendent Bill Husfelt has made putting an armed officer at every school a priority.
“We must have armed officers in each school,” he said in a lengthy statement released Monday. “I don’t want our schools to feel like prisons, with armed guards in every hallway, but clearly our children deserve the additional security of at least one armed officer on each campus.”
Husfelt said the school district is on track to construct new, secure entryways for all of its schools by 2020, as well as improve fencing and security systems. His final push, he said, will be for immediate access to mental health services for students.
“Our children are the ones in the background ‘suffering in silence’ and living in deplorable conditions, but that silence will turn into rage and it will not end well for anyone,” he said.
The superintendent expressed his frustration with the inaction he has seen as school shooting after school shooting rolls through the news. School Board Chairwoman Ginger Littleton referred to the shooting as “another tragic verse in a song that already has too many verses.”
“It goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the community of Parkland but, even in the words of the children of Parkland, the time for thoughts and prayers is over because it’s past time for action,” Husfelt said. “I truly thought that after the massacre of 20 kindergartners in Newtown (Connecticut) that our country would come together and realize that more needs to be done to protect our children. That was in 2012, and obviously I was wrong.”
Husfelt and Littleton called for Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass legislation to make it more difficult for “average citizens” to buy military-style weaponry.
“This is not an issue of gun ‘control,’ ” Littleton said. “This is an issue of common sense. We now hear our own youngsters begging us adults to do something before more of their peers die.”
Husfelt said he has been working with local legislators on what steps need to be taken, adding that funding will be a large factor in what can be accomplished.
“I have confidence and faith that our local leaders and state officials have the ability to come together to make our schools safer and to help us do everything we can to help prevent yet another tragedy,” he said.
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