A recent in-depth look into a local school system's security threshold revealed strengths and weaknesses.
Washington County, Tennessee officials are working on improvements, and changes could be implemented in the very near future.
First grade is just a few days away for six-year-old Shannon Silvers. His mother, Amanda Sauls, just wishes his safety wasn't a concern. "There are so many school shootings. It's just scary. I mean, you think your kid is going to school to be safe, but you wonder sometimes," said Sauls.
Washington County school leaders wonder, too. That's why back in May, officials proactively asked the sheriff's department, along with U.S. Marshals and the FBI, to determine what they're doing right and what they can do better. "It was a very detailed examination of all procedures as well as potential vulnerabilities on the campus inside the buildings," said Ron Dykes, the Washington County, Tennessee Director of Schools.
Now the results are in, so News 5 asked Dykes about the findings. "They were very complimentary on the procedures and various types of security equipment we had in place," said Dykes.
Some of that includes indoor and outdoor security cameras, intruder drills, and visitor protocol.
Dykes said the report included suggestions to make students and classrooms harder to get to like adding "additional fencing on some campuses [and] vehicle barriers; the concrete barriers that are placed in front of doorways to keep vehicles from ramming through," said Dykes.
Another recommendation we learned about includes installing a 'sally port' for visitors. "That funnels a visitor into sort of an enclosed area, and it doesn't give them access to hallways," Dykes said.
Dykes went on to tell us that some of the suggestions he can't talk about publicly for safety reasons because they deal with improving an unspecified number of security vulnerabilities within the schools.
We were not able to get a copy of the results for that reason, but Dykes emphasizes those issues won't go unaddressed, and that assurance is helpful when a child's life rests in the hands of school leaders.
"[It gives me] a lot of peace-of-mind; especially when mine are as young as they are. They still have quite a while to go in school," said Sauls.
Dykes went told News 5, there is already a resolution filed for the county commission that requests $500,000 of funding specifically to start working on improvements suggested by the security assessment.