Published: Feb 26, 2013 04:20 PM
Modified: Feb 26, 2013 04:20 PM
CARY - Parents at one Cary elementary school are taking school security into their own hands but they wont be going vigilante.
Fearing that Turner Creek Elementary School isnt due for security upgrades any time soon, the schools Parent-Teacher Association is trying to raise at least $15,000 for security and safety changes, potentially including fencing around a playground, electronic locks and an upgraded surveillance system.
Unfortunately, Wake County has their hands full, so we wanted to do as much as we can to help alleviate some of the security challenges, said Beth Olevano, a parent of two Turner Creek boys.
To fund the upgrades, the PTA will turn to Frogapalooza, an annual event expected to draw hundreds of visitors to the school on Saturday.
In the past, proceeds from Frogapalooza have paid for interactive whiteboards, sun screens and other improvements. This year, ticket sales for the event, which will include international food and cultural exhibits, may go toward a security upgrade.
The schools assistant principal, Doug Cox, was not available for comment last week on how the school would spend the money. Samiha Khanna, a school-system spokeswoman, said the schools administration had not finalized a wish list, and that the school and PTA would discuss the proposed projects after the fundraiser.
Once the moneys available, school system staff will review any proposed changes.
It all depends on the situation, Khanna said.
At Turner Creek, parents and administrators talk turned to safety concerns in December, after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. For some in western Wake, the tragedy was a reminder of a 2010 murder-suicide at a nearby Target store.
We had all been questioning the school administration and Wake County, said Olevano, who is in charge of Frogapalooza. We wanted to know what was being done.
The schools four mobile classrooms are a top concern, she said. The pods and the main buildings doors take two different sets of keys, increasing the chance that one will be left unlocked.
Its now standard to install keyless electronic locks in new schools, but Turner Creek was built in 2004.
We want to make it easier and safer for kids to come into the school, and to prevent people from coming into the schools, Olevano said.
She sees the event as a way for the school to address its needs without waiting for a lengthy district-wide budgeting system. The fundraiser isnt meant as a political point its a practical solution to a pressing problem, Olevano said, though she believes the county and the town of Cary could put more emphasis on school security.
Wake County could have a definitely bigger role, she said. I understand it does have a lot on its plate, and so, right now
as a member of the PTA, Im mostly focused on my children and the school that they attend.
Turner Creek and the rest of the countys elementary schools also are the subject of another discussion about security: With few exceptions, Wakes elementary schools dont have school resource officers, the armed police officers most often seen in high schools.
A school district staff proposal to put unarmed guards in all schools stalled at the Wake County Board of Education last month, drawing criticism from board members and parents who said it did too much or too little.
The school board and the Wake County Sheriffs Office have since formed a committee to investigate school security. The Turner Creek parents say it will be up to the town and the school system to put a security guard in elementary schools.
But in the meantime, theyve got a plan of their own.