Superintendent talks security in wake of Noblesville school shooting

Students attending the last two days of school last week were greeted with an extra strong police presence, in the wake of another school shooting – this time close to home.

Huntington County Community School Superintendent Randy Harris took the opportunity of the school board meeting Tuesday, May 29, to address the recent school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School. Harris added his thoughts and prayers for the Noblesville community to his praise for middle school science teacher Jason Seaman’s heroic efforts on behalf of his students.

“It is so nice to have teachers like Mr. Seaman out there, who literally was willing to give his life to protect his kids,” Harris said. “I think we have many teachers like that across the state of Indiana, that the kid in their class is the most valued resource that he or she has, and they will do anything in their power to try and protect those kids.”

He added that HCCSC is being proactive to make sure such an incident doesn’t happen closer to home.

“We’ve talked about safety and security here in Huntington County, and after that incident, for the sake of added security, I’ve contacted Chief Hacker with the Huntington Police Department, and so both today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) here at the end of school we’ll add just another level of security there. They’ve added additional police officers to our buildings to provide for that,” he said. “We didn’t just sit back and say, ‘That’s done; it’s a tragedy,’ and go on.”
Harris said he was concerned about how to tackle the situation, which has grown to near epidemic proportions across the country.

“I’ve heard people talk about gun control; I’ve heard people talk about, ‘We need more school resource officers;’ I’ve heard people talk about, ‘We need more mental health counseling in our schools.’ And I can’t disagree with any of those,” he said.

“I’m not sure exactly what the answers are, but I agree that we need to look at all of those. But I think another thing that we’re forgetting, and that is the true cost of those, just in dollars and cents.”

Harris said the Indiana Legislature allocated $50 million for school safety for public schools, which breaks down to about $28,000 per school building. That money cannot be used to school resources officers except as a one-time startup. Uses include hardware and software. In the past, HCCSC has used it to put the RAPTOR visitor registration system in place.

However, schools need far more money to put better security measures in schools, he said.

Harris said the amount of money going to traditional public schools has been lost to inflation over the years. He advocated petitioning the state government for additional funding, not only for school resource officers and mental health counselors but also to increase teacher salaries to keep up with inflation.

In action items before the board, a half-time employee to teach the criminal justice class was unanimously approved.
“It sounds like something we became aware of and jumped on pretty quickly,” said Board President Matt Roth. “I think what most of us agree is a great candidate to fill that position.”

Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel will teach the class and was also approved as a school resource officer. Fifteen students are signed up for next fall’s class so far, amounting to a revenue of about $20,000 that will come into the career/technical education program.

After conducting a hearing in which no one spoke, the board unanimously approved the debt service additional appropriation of $1,025,092 and approved a resolution to execute the appropriation. The appropriation was recommended due to an insufficient appropriation set aside in 2017.

The next school board meeting will be held Monday, June 12, in Room 13 at Salamonie Elementary School. Those attending should use Door 1 to enter the building.