By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – In the wake of the Santa Fe High School tragedy on the morning of Friday, May 18, questions were raised concerning the safety of students and staff in Houston County schools.

On such short notice, several of the area superintendents were unavailable for comment, however, Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson indicated while he could not speak for any district other than Grapeland, he believed most of the ISDs were taking a very proactive approach to securing their schools.

“We just had an active shooter training which was very enlightening to our staff and to me. (Houston County Fire Marshal) Roger Dickey came in and gave us some techniques on how to respond to an active shooter,” the GISD superintendent said.

Jackson explained one of his goals as a superintendent was to be able to put the district in a position to fight back.

“I know other school districts have adopted a teacher carry policy. Some districts have bit the bullet on the budget and employed a school resource officer. I think it’s worth it to invest in even more security,” he said.

“With the construction of our new elementary,” Jackson continued, “we’re addressing the situation. Security was one of the main selling points for our bond. With our secondary campus, the campus is so spread out. We have some areas we would like to address but most of all is our response. How do you respond to something like this? We want to make sure we have a refined game plan.”

As he continued, Jackson commented the spate of school shootings “… are becoming way too frequent. Even one is too frequent. If I heard right, this is the 22nd school shooting this year.”

“It is the biggest fear any administrator has – not assessments – but rather school safety. It’s making sure our students are transported safely and making sure they are safe when they are in school. I think the nation is responding by putting their money where their mouth is. That is what we have to do with this district. School security is not just something you can talk about. School security is something you have to finance,” he said.

Jackson added he was looking to increase the school security at GISD by budgeting for it and making sure the funds are available to help protect the students and staff, if something were to happen.

“Every life is so valuable. If we can do something that will delay – sometimes you can’t stop someone – but if you can make it harder for them, you can save many lives,” Jackson said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.