This is the text of a prepared statement by Director of Greeneville City Schools Dr. Linda B. Stroud, who read the statement to the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen during their regular meeting Tuesday afternoon:
"I would like to begin by again thanking the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Town Administrator, and the Greeneville Police Department for your support, vision, and quick action to assign trained Greeneville City Police officers to all Greeneville City Schools.
"The safety of children in public schools is the topic of discussions all across our nation. Many opinions abound, including many in our community.
"I respect and am interested in the opinions of our community members and very much appreciate those who have communicated with me.
"The feedback that I have received has been totally supportive and positive regarding the placement of trained officers in each of our schools.
"A quick Internet search reveals much information concerning gun violence in America's schools.
"Depending on the source, records indicate that at least 75, and perhaps over 140, fatal incidents of school gun violence have taken place in the U.S. since 1990.
"These evil acts have resulted in the senseless deaths of over 320 children and adults in that same time period. These tragedies are no longer anomalies in our society, and we cannot afford the luxury of playing the odds that they will only happen in other communities.
"Indeed, these tragic situations are not limited to schools, but have occurred in malls, movie theatres, restaurants, places of business, churches, and even homes.
"As astounding and concerning as those figures may be, the research also reveals that schools still remain among the safest environments for our children.
"Greeneville City Schools' employees will continue to learn from national experts concerning school safety initiatives, closely review our emergency and safety plans, and examine school facilities to ensure every effort is made to use our resources in the most effective ways possible to increase building security.
"We cannot allow our schools to become locked-down fortresses. However, we must all work together to continue to provide a warm, loving, and safe environment in which our children may learn and grow.
"We realize there are no absolute guarantees in life, even with all of the safety measures and addition of trained officers.
"This initiative is certainly a deterrent to possible violence, and that is our goal. We also recognize that the best deterrent is prevention.
"Research shows that strong and trusting relationships with students most often results in the prevention of school violence as students provide information prior to tragic events occurring.
"We will continue to foster relationships with our students and teach them responsibility.
"However, we also have a responsibility as leaders, community members, and taxpayers to do everything possible that is reasonable and prudent to protect our most precious resource, our children.
"I have spent many hours in research, discussion, reflection, and prayer concerning my recommendation about the need for trained and armed police officers in our schools.
"This is not a decision or recommendation that I make lightly. I am deeply saddened that we must have this conversation, and I detest that we must take this action.
"In fact, I strongly believe that schools are places that should always be free of any type of weapon or violence.
"However, I am also a realist, and I am convinced that this is the appropriate and prudent course of action for us to take collectively as a community.
"I am not a proponent of arming teachers or other volunteers. I believe that only trained and certified Greeneville police officers should provide any armed security that we place in our schools.
"Therefore, it is my recommendation as the Director of Schools that we continue the initiative to keep Greeneville police officers assigned to all Greeneville City Schools.
"Thank you again for your continued support of Greeneville City Schools, and thank you for your careful consideration of this request."