On Saturday, millions of people across the country took part in the March For Our Lives to protest against school shootings and for school safety.
Marches happened everywhere, even here in Harrodsburg, where around 75 people braved freezing temperatures and weekend traffic to walk from the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse chanting “Enough is enough!” At the Judicial Center, speakers used a megaphone to make themselves heard over the driving rain.
The organizers said school safety is a nonpartisan issue and they want lawmakers to make schools safer.
“Marching is great but they need to hear us,” said Burgin Independent High School student Millie Hammons, who, along with her classmates Savannah Hinton and Kendra Young-Robinson and Burgin English teacher Megan Berketis, organized the march.
While many of the marchers were advocating for gun control, Burgin Board of Education Chairman Bob Clark said it wasn’t that simple.
“It’s not the gun, it’s not the knife,” said Clark, who noted that mental health funding was miniscule at the state and federal level. “It’s the breakdown of the family unit.”
Clark said what had happened in Florida happened because of a breakdown in communication.
“If that falls apart, there’s nothing we can do to prevent it,” he said.
But that’s the job schools and local law enforcement find themselves tasked with: preventing the unpreventable.
Burgin Assistant Principal Matt Grimes gave a presentation at the last Burgin Board of Education meeting. Unlike Mercer County Schools, Burgin has no dedicated school resource officer and is farther away from both the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and Harrodsburg Police Department.
Grimes said Burgin has purchased a wand metal detector and new radios for the bus drivers which school officials and local law enforcement agencies will monitor.
School officials are also looking at adding more security cameras and allowing Harrodsburg Dispatch to tap into the system so they can monitor the school.
The administration has changed the way visitors are handled, directing them away from other areas of the school during special events. In addition, Burgin has created a committee of teachers to meet regularly and discuss safety. In particular, they are looking to make sure students who might be troubled are being directed to counseling.
Local law enforcement will conduct an active shooter drill in April, said Mercer Sheriff Ernie Kelty. Kelty also said he’s looking at having his deputies use office space at both Mercer County and Burgin schools in order to beef up police presence.
“Our kids are our number one priority,” Kelty said.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.