NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — School officials in Orange County were considering a proposal Friday to use armed guards to bolster security at local elementary schools.
The proposal was part of a vote Tuesday night by trustees with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to look into the cost of constructing a fence around Andersen Elementary School at 1900 Port Seabourne Place in Newport Beach, the Orange County Register reported.
Last November, the Newport-Mesa Board of Education approved plans to install fencing around the instructional areas of Adams and Victoria Elementary schools in Costa Mesa, while also calling for further study for proposed fencing at Andersen. The fencing would include gates with panic bars for emergency evacuation from the campus.
Safety experts said a fence can slow down an armed suspect who may threaten a school.
“Something I keep wondering about is why don’t we have a fence? Because right now, anyone can get in,” parent Nghi Bo said.
As many as 62 percent of residents living in the area immediately surrounding Andersen Elementary, however, were opposed to fencing around the school, the Register reported, citing a recent survey conducted by the district.
Katrina Foley of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District said trustees have decided to look at a number of safety measures.
“The options range from fencing to adding plant material to obscure people from being able to see inside the school, all the way to include building walls, security guards, armed security guards. There are a whole host of options. We’re not just looking at arming every school site in Newport-Mesa,” she said.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials last April announced plans to hire 440 security aides armed with radios to patrol its elementary schools as part of a $4.2 million plan to increase school security.
Some Southland parent groups and community rights activists have opposed the idea of armed security personnel at local schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Connecticut in December 2012.
“Armed security…that seems like a bit much,” a woman told KCAL9’s Michele Gile.