Some Treasure Valley schools have added additional security measures for the new academic year in the wake of several high-profile shootings, including one that left 17 people dead at a Parkland, Florida high school in February.
At Kuna's Hubbard Elementary School David Howard, or “Mr. Dave” to the students there, is a friendly face around the school grounds each day.
“When they’re at this age they all want attention,” he said, while competing with the yelling of children in the school’s playground. “They are special and they want to be noticed.”
But the former dairyman turned school security aide is also on the lookout for threats.
“I consider myself a second set of eyes and second set of ears for these teachers."
Howard is one of the unarmed guards keeping watch at all of Kuna’s public schools this year, part of a $135,000 program to increase security in the district. The rolling farmland and quiet suburban neighborhoods of the growing bedroom community hardly seem like a place where residents would worry about violent crime. But in this era of mass shootings, education officials are adapting to the times, says Kuna School District spokesman David Reinhart.
“I think parents, rightly so, always have safety of their children first and foremost … and they certainly seem grateful that we’re taking steps,” he said.
Kuna is not the only school increasing security. Boise and Nampa School Districts have added cameras and Boise has a new visitor check-in system. For the most part, though, local schools have resisted controversial "active shooter" drills, specific scenarios meant to recreate a firearms attack.
Kathleen Tuck, spokeswoman for the Nampa School District, said such scenarios are unnecessary in light of regular lockdown drills.
“We’re doing the same thing you would do in an active shooter situation,” she said. “Because what studies have found is that these lockdowns are the most effective way to keep kids safe in this situation.”
A proposal from The State Department of Education would add roughly $19 million worth of new security measures for Idaho schools. However, some education officials have criticized the measure, which would need approval from The Idaho Legislature when it meets in January.
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