The words of Benjamin Franklin, the only Founding Father to have signed all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the United States Constitution, still ring true today when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To state the obvious, “it is easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.”
With those ten simple words as a starting point, the rhetorical question which begs an answer is whether this decades old adage should apply to the ongoing resistance of the Floyd County School Board to resolve the issue of the hiring of school resource officers? Although it could be argued that the language of Kentucky’s statute which requires “local school boards, school district superintendents … and local and state law enforcement agencies shall cooperate to assign, by August 1, 2022, one (1) school resource officer to serve each campus,” is merely a recommendation to begin discussions.
On its face, the language of the statute appears clear, as of August 1, 2022, each campus should have a school resource officer. Of course, the bureaucrats will argue that the language of the statute merely requires cooperation to discuss school resource officer by August 1, 2002, not the actual assignment of a school resource officer at the schools. It appears that at least for the Floyd County School Board, the language of the statute does not matter. Yet, it should matter, especially when the safety of Floyd County School students, faculty and staff depends on the decisions of the Floyd County School Board.
So, one is left to ask what could be the reason that a contract has yet to be signed to provide school resource officers for the safety of Floyd County students, teachers, faculty, and staff. Could it be that the Floyd County School Board is looking for a cheap way out of complying with the statute? Certainly, it should not be about the money, especially in light of the fact that the Floyd County School Board recently approved the expenditure of $703,678.40 in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund dollars to purchase and install six (6) video display boards to display student’ information as parents arrive to pick up their students. This is the problem with bureaucrats, they have never seen a federal, state, or local tax dollar which they could not find a way to spend.
One is left to wonder why the ESSER dollars were not spent on security measures for Floyd County Schools, security measures such as locks, panic buttons, individual room security systems, video surveillance, and the hiring and paying of armed school resource officers. If the Floyd County School Board could figure out a way to designate the purchase of six video display boards as related to COVID-19, then they could have found a comparable way to designate school security measures and school resource officers as being related to COVID-19.
Recently, Senator Tim Scott and Senator Roger Marshall introduced legislation which would exempt expenses for school security improvement from current ESSER guidelines that require expenses to be related to COVID-19. In the words of Senator Scott, “As the nation continues to mourn the innocent lives taken at Uvalde, leaders have a responsibility to turn our collective grief into real action.”
Another rhetorical question which begs an answer is just exactly who does the Floyd County School Board expect to pay for school resource officers and school safety measures? If they expect the school resource officers to be funded by local government or any of its agencies or offices to fund the school resource officer positions, then it is clear that these officials have not taken the time to read the final paragraph of the statute which requires the local school board to fund the school resource officer positions.
Undoubtedly, Floyd County Schools is not the only school district which has yet to provide school resource officers. Just maybe, the Floyd County School Board, and other school boards across Kentucky, will heed the simple wisdom of Benjamin Franklin and spend a few dollars as an “ounce of prevention,” instead of having to spend untold dollars “for a pound of cure.”
In the end, the words of Senator Thom Tillis should be the watchwords of every member of the Floyd County School Board when he said, “Every child deserves to feel safe and secure at school and should never fear for their lives. The tragedy at Uvalde should never happen again and should be a wake-up call to everyone that our schools should implement the best security measures possible.”
The parents, students, teachers, faculty, and staff should demand accountability from the Floyd County School Board, and an explanation as to the reasons why school safety and school resource officers are not their first priority. Once again, to state the obvious, “it is easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it happened.”