Students are noticing an uptick in violence but a decrease in campus police officers after the Clark County School District (CCSD) cut millions of dollars from school safety after their recent budget crisis this year. The reduction caused most schools to eliminate a police officer, leaving only one per campus.
Students and parents received an automated voice message during the first week of school acknowledging the cuts.
The School Board voted 4-2 to cut $43 million dollars from schools in August — $975,000 of which was taken from the district’s police department. But with recent threats and violence in the district, the cut back on safety regulations and officers has many concerned.
“Many things can happen to teachers and students while on campus so they deserve to feel safe at school,” Principal Tam Larnerd said. “But it’s a shame, because it doesn’t seem like their [the school board’s] actions are matching their words … Clearly safety doesn’t seem to be the number one priority when we’re cutting the people directly responsible for providing a safe environment. We’ve already been cut down to one officer, and having only one may take more time to respond to a situation, which may result in even more people getting hurt or injured.”
Since August, there have been three stabbings at CCSD schools. The cut in officers is causing many schools to scramble and implement new security measures. At Spring Valley, a campus monitor is now posted at the front door to screen anyone who enters or leaves the building.
“I positioned them in the front so every person is vetted before they can come on our campus and that’s safety 101,” Larnerd said. “So as an employee and as a parent I would say that of all things that need to be cut, school safety should be the last.”
Larnerd is an active advocate for keeping school safety the number one priority as both a concerned parent and principal. Larnerd is active on Twitter, often tweeting his concerns that the school board isn’t doing it’s job to keep students safe.
“When will school safety be a priority in CCSD,” Larnerd tweeted on his personal Twitter account on October 16. “Who cuts CCSD Police when THREE students have been stabbed? I’m a parent. I’m worried.”
Others have echoed his concerns about student safety.
“I don’t necessarily feel that I’m in danger but I do feel less safe with it [cuts in police], because they were an authority figure over a lot of kids,” Junior Mykenzie Midby said. “And kids knew they were there, so without them [police] people are going to start realizing that it’s okay to start more fights on campus.”
On October 4, just days after the Route 91 shooting which left 58 dead, a message circulated around social media at Centennial High School about a possible school shooting that left students and parents on edge.
Although the student was arrested, many still fear the possibility that these threats will be harder to investigate without more police on campus acting both as investigators and deterrents against crime.
“All high schools have full time police officers assigned, so whenever school is in session, there is always a police officer here,” Officer Matt Shatto, who is assigned to Spring Valley, said. “When I first started as the school police officer, every high school had two police officers on campus so I think it should go back to that in order to keep the campus more safe.”