Town Hall Meeting in Vinton to Focus on Kids' Safety
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
VINTON, Iowa – Mother of two Vinton-Shellsburg students, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, said her kids' safety is always on her mind. "They are our pride and joys. We want them to be safe," she said.
That feeling is what brought her to a town hall meeting in Vinton, Tuesday night. Organizers, the Benton County Advocates, said the goal was to open a dialog between residents and local officials and get everybody on the same page when it comes to protecting children.
"Start the conversation about safety, and is there more that just the general citizen can do to help keep our kids safe," said Carolyn Hibbs, with Benton County Advocates.
School safety played a large part in the meeting. Officials from the Vinton-Shellsburg school district were on hand to let parents know student security is a top priority when class is in session.
"I'd like to just put their mind at ease, that the district does have student safety at the fore front of our thoughts," said Assistant High School Principal Ryan Davis.
Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock agreed. She said students are safer today than years past. As proof Hainstock cited the district’s close relationship with law enforcement, their policy to lock all doors except main entrances during class, and she said, back in August, staff was trained how to handle armed intruders.
Hainstock gave the school a seven out of 10 in terms of safety, room for improvement. In the future Hainstock said they're considering giving armed intruder training to high schoolers and middle schoolers.
"We need to include kids at some level so they are aware of how they might respond," said Hainstock. "We want to give everyone a sense of control."
Hainstock also said they’re considering adding a buzzer system to main entrances.
Tuesday’s town hall meeting wasn’t the Benton County Advocates’ first. The group has hosted forums on politics, health, and agriculture.
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