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Idaho Town To Consider Tax For Stepped-Up School Security

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - School districts across the Northwest are revisiting their safety plans in the weeks following the shooting at Newtown, Conn. Now, one district in north Idaho is taking it a step further. Leaders there hope to raise taxes to pay for bullet proof glass, metal detectors and video monitoring systems.

First and second graders at Sorensen Magnet School in Coeur d'Alene stare intensely at their violins as they work through “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This isn't the kind of scene that makes you think: high-level security. But the tragedy at Sandy Hook has led educators here to consider security measures never before imagined in elementary schools.

“We have parents who are literally saying to us, 'I will hold a bake sale if we can get security cameras in our school,'” says Matt Handelman, associate superintendent in Coeur d'Alene. The district has proposed a one-year tax levy to raise a$1 million for security and emergency communication measures.

“We realize that you can't necessary fully security a school and you don't necessarily want to," Handelman says. "But want to make sure that we're making it as safe as we can.”

Like many districts, Coeur d'Alene already has armed officers at its middle and high schools. The district is now buying gun safes and rifles those officers can access.

Coeur d'Alene voters would decide on the proposed security levy in March, when they're also being asked to renew a two-year levy to pay for regular school operations. Meanwhile, schools in Post Falls, Idaho, plan to add another armed officer to patrol schools.

Elsewhere in the Northwest -- The Warrenton, Ore., district has closed holes in fences and is locking more doors. Schools in Wenatchee, Wash., are considering a team of experts to identify troubled kids.