The Riverside United School District 114 in Doniphan County, Kansas is struggling with budget issues much like other districts across the state. However, instead of trimming budgets, they are adding to their expenses.
The district's school board recently voted to spend $15,000 to contract private, armed security officers. They say it will be money well spent.
"With everything that's happening in this world, it seems that schools have been a target lately," said Superintendent Mike Newman. "There's a lot of targets within a school. We have a lot of children that attend schools."
The Riverside District has about 760 students spread out in their two locations in Wathena and Elwood. Administrators say the beefed up security could subdue some of the biggest potential safety problems they face such as squabbles within families that spill onto school grounds.
"We probably have more custody issues now than we've ever had," Newman said. "It's very emotional for us telling one parent they can't pick up their child because the other court order saying they can't."
The Riverside schools have already had secure entrances at its facilities for several years, but the new security company hired by the district, Keller Security, is led by a Doniphan County sheriff's deputy. He and his team will be in charge of looking at all potential safety threats at the schools.
""We're going to be a visual deterrent," said CEO Nathan Keller. "That's our key goal, to keep it safe and secure. People who shouldn't be here won't be here and kids won't behave like they shouldn't."
Local school leaders say they haven't heard of other rural districts making a similar move and hire private security. However, Newman believes it will become more of a trend in future years.
"I would hope that parents would feel that their children are safe in our care," Newman said. "That's the main reason we're doing this. To make sure kids are safe. It's always easier for me to explain why we're doing it then to come back later and tell you why we're not doing it when something goes wrong."
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