CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Is there room for police officers in Charleston County elementary schools? That was the question being discussed by CCSD school board members as they were presented with a security snapshot of elementary schools across the district Wednesday night.
CCSD Security Director Jeff Scott explained how elementary schools in the district have improved, security wise, since 2006.
Scott compiled data from school assessments he made back in 2006 and today. Pie charts highlighted where the County's school's are strong and where they are weak.
For example, in 2006 34 percent of 48 elementary schools in the County had complete fencing around their properties. 50 percent of schools at that time had no fencing structures around them.
According to Scott's data - in 2013, 88 percent of schools have complete or partial fencing around them.
In 2006, only three schools had key card entry for employees and staff. More than six years later, 36 elementary schools are fitted with the security condition.
"[The information] gives them an overview of what we have in place as a district and I think you need complete information to decide where we stand as a district to make a decision on any added value that anything else brings to the table," said Scott.
The goal of the presentation was for the board to get enough information to make a decision on whether to add 21 police officers, at Mayor Keith Summey's request, to each elementary school within the district in North Charleston.
"I'd like to see us move into that area where we have true security in our schools especially elementary schools," said board member Rev. Chris Collins during the presentation.
At the same time school board members met downtown, a group called Citizens United for Public Schools (CUPS) met at an open meeting in North Charleston.
"We don't think the answer is to put armed policemen in the schools," said CUPS spokeswomen and Charleston NAACP president Dot Scott.
"It is my hope that the board we elected sees to the education and well being of the children," said Scott. "[School board members] are the ones that they are the final decision about what needs to happen at this point."
Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley says board members have spent hundreds of hours in the past few weeks focused on security in their schools on all levels.
At Wednesday's meeting, Dr. McGinley called security the district's top priority.
The Superintendent said she met with all of the county's Police Chief's and city Mayors Tuesday.
She said Mayor Joe Riley showed interest in making an an effort to change a state law by adding mandatory life safety drills, like a school's would hold mock fire drills, for schools in Charleston County.
The school board is planning on making a decision Monday on whether to allow police officers to be stationed at 21 North Charleston elementary schools.
Wednesday afternoon, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon came out in support of officers in schools but he says he is not in favor of armed teachers in the classroom.