Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning recently hosted two family forums, with a focus on school safety.
One event was set for Jan. 31 at Fivay High School, 12115 Chicago Ave., in Hudson (after The Laker/Lutz News went to press). A similar event was held at Pasco Middle School on Jan. 24.
In the runup to the forums, the school district conducted a Thought Exchange on the issue of school safety. In a Thought Exchange participants are asked to respond to a question that’s intended to encourage a broad range of responses. The Thought Exchange also allows participants to indicate if they agree with thoughts that are expressed by others.
Steve Hegarty, public information officer for Pasco County Schools, said, in this case, “The question that we asked was: ‘What thoughts, concerns or suggestions do you have to enhance safety in our schools?’”
The Thought Exchange was open to the community, to students, to staff and to parents.
During the Pasco County School Board’s Jan. 17 meeting, Hegarty shared some of the feedback that was submitted.
About 4,000 responses were received, he said.
“The way that Thought Exchange works is that you can put a thought in there, you can put a concern.
“You can also rate some idea that somebody else put in there, something that resonates with you, something that you agree with. So, you can rate it as high as a five or as low as a one.
“We learned the things that were most top of mind with folks and the things that resonated with folks.
“What we learned was there’s a lot of different ways you can look at safety.
“Some people think in terms of crosswalks and traffic,” he said.
Others think about bullying or mental health issues.
“Nearly 400 mentioned something about cameras and fencing and things at the physical plant to make it safer at our schools,” Hegarty said.
“The next one is misbehavior.
“The way I look at it, cameras, metal detectors, etc., is sort of outside threats to our safety.
“The second one is more internal.
“There are a lot of parents, students, staff, etc., that weighed in and thought there are some students that are perhaps creating an unsafe environment with their behavior in our schools, so that is a concern that rated pretty highly with parents, students and staff,” Hegarty said.
School Resource officers and School Safety got a big thumbs’ up from respondents, he added.
“They want to see them. They want them to be visible. Many would like to see a lot more in our schools. “That came up again and again.
“We wanted to hear from folks,” Hegarty said. “If they had ideas, we wanted to hear them. If they had concerns, we wanted to address them.”
More information on a variety of safety-related issues was available at the superintendent’s forums.
Published February 01, 2023
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