By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Superintendents at Quay County schools view Tuesday’s shooting at a Middle School in Roswell as a tragedy that reaffirms their existing policies and plans for future training in addressing shooter situations.
Late Tuesday afternoon, reports from Roswell indicated an 11-year-old boy was in critical condition and a 12-year-old girl in serious condition in a Lubbock hospital. Both were victims of shotgun blasts, according to police.
The shooter was identified as a 12-year-old boy who carried the gun into the school gymnasium in an undisclosed container. The shooting took place shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday in the gymnasium of Roswell’s Berrendo Middle School, where students had gathered before classes.
“Even before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., San Jon Schools has been planning with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” said Colin Taylor, San Jon superintendent.
Taylor said that while frightening, the possibility of an active shooter situation is at the forefront of administration minds. He said there is always a need to be ready for all of the incidents that could happen and have happened across the nation.
Taylor said Tuesday’s shooting in Roswell has prompted him to set up meetings with law enforcement agencies, including state police and public safety officials next week to discuss security issues such as fences, cameras and limiting outside access during school hours.
Tucumcari public schools worked with law enforcement agencies to conduct active shooter incident training in June and an early presentation in 2013, said Aaron McKinney, Tucumcari superintendent.
McKinney said the school has been actively seeking cooperative agreements with law enforcement agencies and the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s office for training.
The Roswell shooting, however, points to a need for state legislation to make preparation and training mandatory within the state, to start funding active shooter training in New Mexico schools and set aside funding for school security upgrades, according to McKinney. He said with the incidents at Sandy Hook and now Roswell, “it is not a question of if, but when it will happen.”
In the past, federal education funds were used towards security at schools, said state Rep. Dennis Roch, who is also superintendent of Logan Schools.
Roch said Title IV money has not been available for several years due to federal cuts.
While state money could be set aside specifically for school security, Roch said he would rather see an increase in dollars allocated to school districts across the state, with each school board deciding how that money would be spent, whether for security or other purposes.
Roch said the tragedy in Roswell strengthens what each school has done and continues to do in preparation for active shooting situations and other forms of violence. He said Logan school administrators and staff undergo constant training, and staff continues to be vigilant for all forms of violence.
Roch said the danger lies not only in guns, but also in other risks and hazards to students, including cyber-bullying. He said schools need to stay alert and try to stay a step ahead of any forms of violence that pose a risk to student safety.