Newton opens dialogue on security

Letter to district proposes added measures

By Cody Willoughby -

PLEASANT HILL — Newton Local Schools is considering additional measures of security, and is currently reaching out to the community to facilitate a dialogue.

According to superintendent Pat McBride, no new decisions have been made by the board.

“It’s not official,” McBride confirmed. “Our protocol here is constantly under review. All we’re trying to do is inform the public and let them have some input on it.”

An official letter from the Newton Board of Education was received in the mail by parents in the Newton district on Saturday, March 10. The letter, currently viewable on Newton’s website, outlines safety changes the district is considering to implement. It also outlines security enhancements already in place, such as the full-time school resource officer currently staffed by Newton Local Schools.

“We were one of the first districts our size to do so,” McBride confirmed, of the SRO’s full-time hire. “We made the decision three years ago to do so, and in retrospect, we believe strongly that it was right thing to do. Having a trained deputy in the building in the event of an armed intruder is worth it to the district.”

According to the letter, proposed weapons would be vaulted securely, and would only be accessed by limited staff upon being authorized to do so in the event of a crisis.

“We learn from facts,” McBride insisted. “We know that in an active shooter scenario, damage is inflicted between minute three and four. First responders tend to arrive between minute four and five. Obviously, with an SRO in place, our response time remains substantially less than that, which is good news.

“We’re just proposing that that response time be even less, in the event our SRO wasn’t available while tending to other duties. I hope this won’t be an issue that divides the community, because that’s not what we’re trying to do. Our goal isn’t to do anything other than protect our kids and staff as best as we can.”

The next regularly scheduled Newton board meeting will be Wednesday, March 14 at 5 p.m., followed by a forum open to the public at 6 p.m.

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Letter to district proposes added measures

By Cody Willoughby