In an effort to enhance the safety of students and staff at Greeneville City Schools, officials of the city school system and the Town of Greeneville have announced a plan to increase the presence of police officers at the schools.
The Greeneville City Schools and the Greene County Schools are on Christmas break.
Beginning on Monday, when students return from Christmas break, each of the six Greeneville schools will have a full-time officer on campus throughout the day, according to Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud.
Previously, a full-time officer has been present at Greeneville High School throughout the day, and a second officer has rotated patrol among Greeneville Middle School and the four elementary schools: Highland Elementary, Tusculum View Elementary, EastView Elementary and Hal Henard Elementary.
The officers will be armed with their usual service weapons.
According to a news release, the plan for an expanded police presence in the schools to enhance safety was formed Wednesday in response to the deadly Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In that situation, 20 students and six school staff members were shot and killed by a 20-year-old man believed to be mentally unbalanced who then took his own life.
Stroud met Wednesday at Town Hall with Mayor W.T. Daniels, City Administrator Todd Smith, and Police Chief Terry Cannon to discuss the plan.
"We want to enhance police presence at all of our schools to reinforce security and the comfort level of both students and parents," Smith said.
The news release quoted Stroud as stating said she is thankful for the opportunity to work with Greeneville to increase school safety.
"I'm extremely appreciative to the Town and the Greeneville Police Department for their commitment to the safety and security of the students in Greeneville City Schools," she said in the news release.
She explained in an interview with The Greeneville Sun on Wednesday afternoon that discussions concerning ways of enhancing school safety had been under way since the Newtown tragedy occurred.
The discussions culminated in the announcement Wednesday, she said.
Stroud added that the Greeneville Board of Education will continue to focus on the issue of school safety and what additional steps may be taken as the system moves forward.
Discussion of school safety will also be on the agenda for the Jan. 15 meeting of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
COUNTY SCHOOL SITUATION
The Greene County School System has not made any announcements related to increases in school security.
However, the County Board of Education was scheduled to discuss safety issues with county commissioners during today's 3:30 p.m. meeting of the Greene County Education Committee.
County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk said Wednesday that, under the system's current policy, a security officer is present during school hours at each of the county system's four high schools.