NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Districts Increase Security

August 4, 1999

Urban school districts have been emphasizing safety for years. But in the wake of the Littleton, Colo., shootings, a rising number of suburban schools are pouring money into campus security -- even if that means dipping into budgets meant for other programs.

  • Although school-related crimes declined from 164 per 1,000 students in 1993 to about 128 per 1,000 in 1996, districts are spending as much as $20,000 on security consultations.
  • Public schools are seeking federal grants to pay for security equipment, expert advice and training -- with schools in Liberty, Mo., for example, applying for a $3.4 million federal grant to support safety efforts over three years.
  • In addition to installing metal detectors, surveillance cameras and special alarms, school administrators are forging new alliances with law enforcement personnel as they institute policies of "zero tolerance" for mischief and suspend students who make threats or even spread rumors about violence.
  • Many schools will limit access to one entrance this fall, place caller ID and tracing devices on all telephones, and in some cases consider banning book bags.

In years past, summer was a time for quiet preparations, when teachers and administrators planned courses and hired staff. But this summer, teachers and administrators are debating how to handle violent students and identify troubled youths.

No one knows what the financial costs will eventually mount to. Nor can the costs of diverting attention from curricula and learning be quantified.

Source: Charisse Jones, "Back to School, Guardedly," USA Today, August 4, 1999.


Browse more articles on Education Issues