A new school year begins this week.
Park Hill students go back today (Wednesday). Platte County R-3, West Platte and North Platte teachers welcome pupils back Thursday.
We hope with confidence that all the news this year will be about scholars, award winners and athletes who excel. A newsman like me enjoys an interesting story. But, I’m hoping for a peaceful and routine news year between now and next May.
The Kansas City Star reported this week that school districts in the metro area spent more than $20 million on upgrades to buildings to make them safer. I’d bet the true cost is higher, maybe not in new construction, but certainly in personnel dedicated to safety, training and the addition of safety gear that doesn’t necessarily show up in a new construction report.
The horrific shootings last December at Sandy HookElementary School in Newtown, Conn., brought changes. Schools have been tightening access for decades. Irate parents, stranger danger, parental custody battles, gangs and drugs have all been game changers. But there’s no doubt that the professionals who teach our children and run our schools have prepared extra for this year.
For many of us in our school days, police officers entered the school a few times a year to deal with isolated problems or to make a speech to students about public service. Nowadays, law enforcement officers are part of the school staff. That’s not all bad. There’s a trust to be built between students and law enforcement. It’s good for students to see that police officers care. But their required presence makes the nation a bit more cautious as the yellow buses start running.
However, there are many positive things about schools for us to remember.
Teachers are well trained and dedicated to their calling. I’m not saying every teacher is perfect. But I am saying that most are very good and some are extraordinary. Our PlatteCounty schools are well respected among educators and that helps attract high-quality teachers.