Education

Officials Ready To Put $10 Million Toward Security Following Colorado School Shooting. Here’s What Parents Think

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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Neetu Chandak Education and Politics Reporter
  • Douglas County Commissioners voted to redirect $10 million toward security and possible mental health resources in the district’s schools following a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
  • The $10 million comes from additional property tax revenue and is a one-time “funding opportunity,” a commissioner said.
  • Parents said they’re grateful for the funding, but want long-term solutions.

Parents in Douglas County, Colorado, approve of commissioners voting for a flow of $10 million toward resources in response to the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, but said they were not sure if the funds would be enough.

Officials made the announcement Monday, less than a week after the STEM tragedy that left eight students injured and one dead May 7. The funds will go toward increased security and potentially mental health resources.

Commissioners will decide exactly how the money will be spent at a May 28 meeting.

“The sheriff and county commissioners are taking charge and the district leaders are in the shadows,” DCSD parent Aaron Johnson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

DCSD public information officer Paula Hans told TheDCNF that “we will be better able to respond after a decision has been made.”

“I thank you for the $10 million, I think that’s a great start,” one Douglas County parent said at a Monday meeting. “But again, I think that it’s a band-aid. I think we need long-term solutions.”

The $10 million would come from additional property tax revenue and would be available for the next year due to increases in property value, Commissioner Lora Thomas said at the meeting.

“We want to walk along side of them, we want to support them in this difficult time and assist them in this one-time funding opportunity to keep our children safe,” Thomas said.

Devon Erickson, 18, accused of taking part in a deadly school shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, appears at the Douglas County Courthouse where he faces murder and attempted murder charges, in Castle Rock, Colorado, U.S., May 8, 2019. Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Pool via REUTERS

Devon Erickson is accused of taking part in a school shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch. Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Pool via REUTERS

Many parents called for metal detectors and more school resource officers (SRO).

“Let’s just put the officers in our classrooms, in our schools to protect our kids … I appreciate the $10 million, I think we are all in agreement it’s not enough,” a parent whose two sons attend Douglas County School District (DCSD) said.

Some even explicitly called for arming teachers and volunteers inside schools. (RELATED: Student Lunged Toward Colorado School Shooter, Sacrificing His Life)

“I would like to take the majority of this $10 million and put it toward SROs, armed people, volunteers or teachers that want to be trained,” a father, who is a former FBI agent, said.

Parents also called on officials to allocate more resources toward mental health and to address “the relentless bullying.”

Community members were still pleased that officials were acting quickly to find solutions.

A man cries at a vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, U.S., May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A man cries at a vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, U.S., May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Douglas County’s move toward increasing mental health and security services is somewhat similar to the aftermath responses of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012 and Parkland shooting in 2018.

Newtown Public School District (NPSD), which includes Sandy Hook, heightened security. Police officers guarded school entrances in the district and more cameras were installed one month after the massacre, the Huffington Post reported.

NPSD Superintendent Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue told TheDCNF the district has “not routinely made public comments regarding Sandy Hook” as it is a “very sensitive for our families and staff.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) opened five locations for free mental health for the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) community Feb. 15, 2018, district Public Information Officer Cathleen Brennan told TheDCNF. Brennan has yet to respond to TheDCNF’s inquiry about costs surrounding the mental health facilities.

The Florida legislature also signed a law three weeks after the shooting. Provisions included raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, allowing certain educators to be armed and putting more than $98 million toward “hardening the physical security of school buildings.”

Douglas County Commissioners and STEM did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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