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12/19/2012 6:01:00 AM
Are our schools safe enough?
Kingman parents want beefed-up school security
JC AMBERLYN/MinerSecurity guards greet visitors at the entrance to the parking lot of Kingman High. Visitors must give their name and their reason for visiting to the guard, who then jots down their license plate number. Some parents are pushing for additional security measures at local elementary schools.
Security guards greet visitors at the entrance to the parking lot of Kingman High. Visitors must give their name and their reason for visiting to the guard, who then jots down their license plate number. Some parents are pushing for additional security measures at local elementary schools.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - In light of last week's tragedy in Connecticut, some local parents believe it's time for the Kingman Unified School District to provide security guards at its elementary schools.

They're ready to circulate petitions, take the discussion to the school board and even volunteer to provide extra eyes and ears at the schools.

"I just want all of us to be safe," said Eleonore Land, who has one child attending Cerbat Elementary and two who will be in the future.

Land put out a call for action on Facebook and welcomes anyone interested in being a part of the movement to contact her via email at

Currently, the district contracts with Guard Force Security to provide services for Kingman High, Lee Williams High, Kingman Middle School and White Cliffs Middle School.

In addition, both the Kingman Police Department and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office devote several school resource officers to the district. The security guards do not carry firearms, but the resource officers do.

Still, parents say that's not enough.

"I feel there should be security guards at all the schools," said Christina Brown, whose son as well as her cousin's five children attend La Senita Elementary.

"I want to know my kids are safe."

There's a need for more oversight at the elementary schools, she said. She believes added security will give parents the peace of mind they so desperately need.

"My son should be as safe at school as he is with me," she said.

Kingman Unified Superintendent Roger Jacks said he understands why parents feel the way they do about their children's safety right now.

"I believe it's a valid conversation," Jacks said. "We have to decide as a community where we want to go with this."

Jacks said the district's commitment to safety has worked well in the past, but the type of violence that occurred in Connecticut last week makes him question everything.

He sent out a recommendation to the district's school board members Tuesday, suggesting they hold a security workshop in early January to hear from parents and explore the feasibility of providing security at the elementary schools.

"It's not cheap," Jacks said. "But you can't put a price on a child's life."

The district annually pays $174,019 to Guard Force for the four schools it provides security for. Kingman High is by far the most expensive, with a yearly bill of $86,362. The other three contracts range between $24,000 and $37,000 apiece.

When the district needs added security for specific events, such as homecoming, it pays additional money for the service.

The money pays for three security guards at Kingman High and one security guard at each of the other three schools. Each security guard costs the district roughly $30,000 - give or take $5,000 - a year, said Wanda Hubbard, KUSD's director of finance.

That's the price tag people could expect should the school board decide to put guards at each of its schools.

Here's how the school resource officers are divided among district schools:

• A KPD officer for White Cliffs who also visits Desert Willow and Hualapai Elementary.

• A KPD officer splits time between Lee Williams High and Palo Christi Elementary.

• A KPD officer spends time at both Kingman Middle School and Manzanita Elementary.

• A full-time MCSO deputy at Kingman High also visits La Senita Elementary when there's a need.

• A deputy splits time between Cerbat Elementary and Black Mountain School.

• An MCSO substation is on the campus of Mount Tipton.

School board member Laurie Voss Barthlow said the security discussion is definitely worth having, but she wants to learn how feasible it would be to ramp up security at the elementary schools and hear how the principals feel about it as well.

"Still, it's a discussion worth having," she said.

Frank Giamporcaro, a local man whose two children graduated from Kingman Unified schools, is joining the movement for more security at the elementary schools.

"Do whatever it takes," he said. "It's even worth raising taxes for."

He believes an added level of security at the elementary school could dissuade someone thinking of entering a school and doing harm.

There are security guards at malls, banks and most every place that contains valuables, he said.

"Wherever you have something valuable, you guard it," he said. "Our children are valuable."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: David Coop

If more security is added to the schools, the cost should be the responsibility of the city, county, or state police. Money meant for education should not be spent on security. Our community's safety is the responsibility of the police. React plans would also be smoother since the guards would be working directly with the police.

If implemented, these security guards should also be armed. If not, then they're useless. An unarmed security guard is not going to stop and armed person willing to kill a bunch of kids.

When you think of these security guard, think of a trash man. Because that's what you're asking for. With the number of schools we have, the qualifications to become one of these security guards is going to be low in order to fill the positions. Topnotch individuals aren't applying for security positions. These jobs are usually given to those on the lowest end of the spectrum.

If you feel insecure with the idea that any of these under-qualified armed security guards could potentially turn psycho on your kids, then forget the whole thing. Because, that's what you are going to be paying for.

The world is a dangerous place. Your child is actually much more likely to be killed in a car accident than a school shooting. You have the choice to take your child out of school, and placed into a safer environment to learn. That would cost you a lot of money, though! But, like you said: "you can't put a price on a child's life." Is that what you meant, or are you just pushing the responsibility onto someone else?

I want our children safe just as much as you do, but let's be rational.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Re: Donna Wickerd
"I am already underpaid and overworked, and have to spend thousands of dollars on professional development to keep certified." As of 1/2012 Arizona ranks in the 10 worst schools in the U.S., if you worked in the private sector and expected a raise for low performance you would be fired. as for the thousands of dollars spend for certification, you picked the career, if the pay is not what you want then change. Arming teachers is not the answer, perhaps we should ask what has changed in the last 20 years that causes a person to commit such an act of violence.

re: Arizona Moderate
Assault weapons bans are not the answer, a study by the FBI on the impact of California's assault weapon ban found no decrease in shootings or on the number of victims in shootings. Food for thought, an assault weapon typically carries a 30 round magazine, a defensive shotgun can carry 8 rounds of 00 buck, each shell contains 9 .32 caliber projectiles 9 x 8 = 72 projectiles and with shotguns now having magazines, loading is fast. So the issue is not the gun, the issue is, what has changed in our society over the last 2 decades to cause people to act out with such violence, and this is where the focus needs to be, you don't cure the cold by cutting off the head.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Oh Really??

@ Patrick

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?
     Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
     That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan-- that equals 6 1/2 hours).
     Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That's $585 X 180= $105,300
per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
     What about those special
education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an
hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute -- there's
something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher's salary
(nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days
= $277.77/per day/30
students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Don't Do It

@ SJune Chance

"Put HOLY BIBLEs inthe schools & teach thou shall not kill."

Yeah, that's the fix! I wonder how some of the parents that practice a different religion or not one at all will like you shoving the Bible down their kids throat? If we as parents just teach our kids "proper morals" like thou shall not kill, not steal, etc... the world would be better off. However, many parents don't want their kids around after they turn like 10 or so, they get in the way! They are easy to identify, they are the ones who's kid is constantly in the Principals Office or on Detention.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Sunday School

@SJune Chance,
Teaching children about the holy bible is what Sunday School is for not public school. I don't send my daughter to public school to be taught a religion, that is a parent's choice of what church to attend and what religion to follow, it shouldn't be forced onto our kids if we don't want it to be.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Eleonore Land

This is in no way overreacting to the tragedy in Connecticut, this is simply acknowledging that our community is not immune to this type of violence and trying to prevent an occurence rather than just waiting till one happens. As a parent to an elementary student, I think having only security at the middle and high school levels is wrong. When I contacted the newspaper to write this article, it was not to start a huge controversy or debate. I am simply trying to get the community together to come up with a viable solution.
I have spoken with Roger Jacks, superintendent, and a possible solution, at least until another one is found, would be to set up an account at a local bank or something of the sort, where parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone else concerned with this situation, could donate money to this cause. People set up these types of accounts to raise money after tragedies occur why not do it before one?This way at least for now taxes wouldn't be raised and the people most concerned and affected could literally put their money where their mouths are. If 10,000 people in Kingman and Golden Valley could donate even $20 that would raise $200,000=enough to hire 1 security guard per elementary school for a year. Is your child's safety for a year worth $20?"Step Up" put it plainly, there are many ways to save money, and if we all came together as a community we could start seeing some results. In addition, of course the teachers that day in Connecticut were the heroes, but maybe if security guards had been there their lives would not have been put on the line for the safety of their students. It is also simply unrealistic to have teachers carrying weapons, they are there to educate our kids and not play cops-and-robbers. Thank you.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: SJune Chance

Put HOLY BIBLEs inthe schools & teach thou shall not kill. Preventative measure is better than Death & taxes!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Confused about La Senita

Can someone please clarify what "when there's a need" means?? I'm just looking at how all the schools have at least 1 deputy split between 2 schools on what i'm assuming a regular basis, but La Senita is the only one that says "when there's a need"?? I realize it's very close to KHS and KHS is a lot bigger and probably requires a lot more security, but I sure would like to feel like my daughter's school is getting as much security as the other elementary schools, especially since this is prompted in the wake of something very tragic, any loophole a psycho can figure out they will take advantage of.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Town Crier

What happened at that school was terrible and unimaginable. However, lets not be quite so reactionary, and think critically about some of these knee-jerk reactions. First of all, let's not forget that we want our freedoms. When you choose freedoms and liberty then safety and security are nothing more than an illusion to create jobs and make people feel warm and fuzzy. The intelligent know that's all it's good for. Unfortunately, "where there's a will, there's a way" also applies to the crazies and the kooks. Children need a better education...not a greater false sense of security. We already set the children up for failure enough in our schools and waste money on crap that makes no difference. Spend that cash on teachers...better teachers. Teachers were the heros that day...not security officers.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

Jay, with all due respect, as a teacher, I am already underpaid and overworked, and have to spend thousands of dollars on professional development to keep certified. Now you want me to get trained to be a police officer too? Are you going to raise all our salaries to reflect the double job that we will have? Why can't a few structural changes combined with a safety officer who is armed and mental health services be considered? TEACHER DO NOT WANT TO CARRY GUNS IN THE CLASSROOM! Can you imagine if you accidentally let a kid get a hold of it and something bad happened? The teacher would go to jail for life...for something she wasn't trained for and shouldn't be expected to do!!! What if you teach HS and some kid that is bigger and meaner than you decides he wants to use your gun on anther kid...are you going to shoot him to stop him from shooting someone else? What a nightmare!!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: step up

I am a parent of 3 boys (2 elementary school, 1 preschool) I am in favor of the extra money coming out of my pocket. I don't send my kids to be babysat, I want them to learn and be safe while doing it.
"Some parents can't afford it" I can hear it already..... cut down on the beer and cigs, don't go to Burger King so much, skip the movie, don't go bowling, collect cans, there are a million ways to save money.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

One simple safety action: make sure only one door is unlocked and that it leads directly to the office, so no one can slip into the school unnoticed. Every KUSD elementary school I have seen has an entryway with an office entrance off to the side instead of directly in the way of visitors. Only KHS has a main entrance leading straight to the office, but plenty of other open doors for students to access their classes. Perhaps students could use keyed entry during business hours to keep the halls secure so that only the one door is unlocked?

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: golden valley man

Im all for the extra security and i do believe a small tax raise is worth it to protect our children. That being said it is already hard to live off of the money we do make but is it worth the little extra struggle to protect our children, too me i think yes.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: wonders never cease

It is not just the schools you need to worry about. It's anywhere that has a high number of people in attendance. If you let the government take away the lawful citizens guns, then only the criminals will have them. Norway's crime has increased by 300 percent since they took away the right to arm. Remove weapons from the gangs and bad guys. As for the mental capacity question, how about having to take a concealed carry class and the minnesota multiphasic personality inventory, designed to catch the mental deficency.
You can put all the security guards in place you want and the criminal will find a way in, like rats in a maze after cheese.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Arizona Moderate

Here's a partial solution - contact your legislators. Tell them to stop putting their personal job security in front of the public good, to man up and reinstate the assault weapons ban. There's no way that we can predict or police the actions of the mentally ill, but we can help keep large magazine guns out of their hands.

The NRA is four million members - 1.3 percent of our population that is dictating national policy (through implied threat of political reprisal). Tell your representatives to stand up for the other 98.7 percent. Our safety and peace of mind are more important than their plans of lifetime public service.

I don't think any American wants to infringe on the rights of hunters and hobbyists. That's part of our culture guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. But we need to use common sense - there's no place for combat-style weapons in a peaceful society. The bad far outweighs the good.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Patrick Waldera

Its time to do away with government schools . America has traditionally considered education too important to be left in the hands of the state . Only in the last century has socialized education come into prominence , and with obviously disastrous results .

These glorified day care centers that look more and more like prisons every day , not only do a poor job of educating children , they have now become death traps .

Finally, why are those without children in these obsolete monstrosities forced to pay for them ?

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: I think not

@ Michael Caspers

"We establish Police Departments to keep us safe from the bad guys."

I disagree, looks at the daily arrest reports. How many of the people were arrested in process of commiting a crime or hurting someone. 99% of the arrests are done so after the fact. To protect us from the bad guys they would need to be "mind readers". We should change the name to reflect what it actually is, "The Arrest Force"!

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: J J

Armed teachers are not the answer

It’s extremely difficult for anyone, let alone a lightly trained and inexperienced civilian, to effectively respond to a shooter. The entire episode can take a matter of seconds and your body is fighting against you: Under extreme stress, reaction time slows, heart rate increases and fine motor skills deteriorate. Police train to build muscle memory that can overcome this reaction, but the training wears off after only a few months if not kept up.

Also, by a vast majority, school teachers don't want to act as police of security on top of their already taxing jobs.

It's much easier to have an officer at every school, all day, period. Less risk, better training, and more jobs.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: m d

Along with security they need to carry guns. If someone on campus has a gun shooting the place up what will these guards have to do to take down the guy? A pencil or ruler to the eye? The gun free zone also needs to become away with! If teachers want to carry concealed that would be the ultimate security

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Give Me The Money To Cover

I am all for added security at the schools. I have 4 Grandchildren 3 of them at 2 of these schools. But to want to add additional taxes on top of all the water and utility raises and cost of food, can you tell me how we are to live? We are not getting raises. Even those of us whom do work are living off fixed incomes and lord forbid if we get sick, we do not get paid. So why suggest paying more taxes for something that should already be done. Train the teachers to give a damn or why bother teaching!

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: The Money

My question would be, "where do they suppose the will come from"? They have already cut too many programs as it is. Are they going to makes more cuts into curriculum, teachers pay?

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Doing Research

Yes, let's be sure to treat the symptoms and not the disease.

Trained security guards are the way to go on this - despite all the people that are going to claim that some other insane solution, such as just handing out guns to teachers, is a cheaper and better solution. Do a Cost/Benefit Analysis and that's plainly obvious.

Shouldn't someone be asking questions about not how to prevent a shooter from getting too far when attacking a school, but how to prevent there from being insane people shooters in schools across this nation in the first place? I mean, what's cheaper in the long-run is to not have school shootings be a thing we have to deal with.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: maury owens

Love the quote "It's even worth raising taxes for." Didn't that just get voted down? The parents want the teachers/schools to babysit their children, keep them safe, teach them not to do drugs, abstain from sex, not to bully, do everything a PARENT should do but want to pay nothing for it...but you say, "Our children are valuable." Then show it.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Usual over-reaction that will die off as soon as these parents are asked to cough up the money to fund their demands.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Michael Caspers

We establish Police Departments to keep us safe from the bad guys. For the most part they do a great job. Things have changed since the framers penned the 2nd amendment. I don't think you can make a case that they thought everyone should be able to carry an AK 47 where ever they go. We establish laws to give us a guide on how to go about the daily business of living. They are not always perfect and that is why from time to time they must be changed. The time has come for a change in how we use our police departments. It is their job to keep the town safe and our children protected. I see no reason why the Kingman police department should not be able to protect our schools. I don't blame the cop doing the job. I blame the management who make the daily schedules out. If they overlapped patrol areas it seems to me that a cop could be in the area of a school at any time. We have spent a trillion dollars on a drug war and drug use and crime have not gone down. There have been 71 shootings at schools since 1993. Where do you want the police? And why are we paying a private company to do what the police are paid to do?

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