Jefferson City Works to Make Schools Safer

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JEFFERSON CITY - Thomas Jefferson Middle School, along with several other Jefferson City Public Schools, was equipped with increased safety measures this summer.

The middle school now has a buzz-in system for visitors. It also has bulletproof windows at the front door and in the administrators' offices. All of the school's old analog cameras were replaced.

Marcia Burton has been a teacher at the school for 21 years. Her three children have attended public schools in the area.

Burton said she has seen the district increase security and partner with local law enforcement.

"I always feel safe and feel safe for my children," Burton said.

At some Jefferson City public schools, guests are required to scan their driver's licenses before entering. Their information is cross-referenced with the sex offender database to ensure the schools stay safe.

The Jefferson City Police Department is adding a new position at Thomas Jefferson. Officer Robert Shearer will be assigned to audit and evaluate the school's safety improvements. He will attend training to help him make recommendations for further improvements in the schools.

Captain Doug Shoemaker said the police department has worked with the school district for more than 15 years. Four schools in the district have school resource officers.

"We are looking at all schools within the district and will make recommendations based on that," Shoemaker said. "I think this step, since they approached us about it, is a very progressive step."

Shearer's job is set to start August 12, just a few days before school begins.

Burton said he is excited the school district can take advantage of the new officer to audit safety improvements.

"We're part of the community and that's part of their job," he said. "That relationship is important to have between the school and the local authorities. And if they provide that, an audit, absolutely we should take advantage of that."

In the past two years, the Jefferson City School District has increased spending on security initiatives by more than $100,000.

Three years ago, the school district spent $55,000 on security. In the last two years, it has spent approximately $190,000 annually.

Jefferson City High School has 60 cameras on its campus, 45 in the main building and 15 in the Nichols Career Center.

Each elementary in the school district has between six and eight cameras in place.

At the last Jefferson City School Board meeting, it was estimated the district has spent about $1 million on security initiatives in the last decade.