City Leaders Address Making Schools Safer

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In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, city leaders met Tuesday to find out what it would take to prevent such an incident in Lincoln. Mayor Chris Beutler, the Lincoln City Council, School Superintendent Steve Joel, and the Lincoln School Board discussed how to make schools safer.

"We obtained a federal grant in 1994 that allowed us to put school resource officers on the street," said Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady.

In the 1970s and 1990s school resource officers were used to make schools safer. Most have since been eliminated. Six still remain, all in Lincoln Public High Schools. The city says each officer costs $79,000 per year. That includes salary, car maintenance, insurance and benefits.

Bringing them back in middle schools would take federal help.

"There is likely going to be some federal funding available and I am hoping that as a community, if we want to increase the number of school resource officers in Lincoln, we need to compete for that funding," said Casady.

Some say addressing mental health issues will greatly decrease the possibility of unsafe situations.

"The access to mental health services has been very limited," said School Board Member Barbara Baier. "We need to look at those preventive measures."

"If we can provide more mental health opportunities, counseling services, therapeutic opportunities as well, that, longer term, we might have a different result as a society. The question is how do we pay for that?" said Lincoln School Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel.

Future joint meetings are expected to further discuss school safety.