QUITMAN, Ark. – With schools set to open for many districts statewide soon, one district is taking safety to a whole new level.
Lawmakers began meeting Tuesday, August 9 for a special session with a $50 million school safety grant on the agenda to help enhance security on campuses.
For the Quitman School District, they have been taking action on its own for years now to protect students and teachers. The superintendent said, frankly, a school shooter would not stand a chance on any of his campuses.
In every classroom in the district, you can find a bullet-proof safety shelter at the back of the classroom.
“It’s the same steel that the U.S. Army uses on their armed vehicles,” said Superintendent Dennis Truxler. “It’s bulletproof.”
How it works is simple. If teachers are notified there is an active shooter on campus, they will line students up to go in and follow them inside, locking the shelter door behind them.
“I had a student tell me, ‘Mr. Truxler, I feel safer at school than I do at home,’” Truxler said.
Truxler said the district added the shelters to campuses back in 2018 for protection against storms or an active shooter.
As we see more and more tragic school shootings across the country, most recently seen in Uvalde in May, Truxler is aware more than ever just how necessary these steel shelters would be the worst-case scenario.
“The safety of your staff and students… I mean that’s number one for me, as an administrator.”
Students in Quitman will head back to class Thursday for the start of a new school year.
“It’s just very comforting,” said Shannon King who teaches at the high school. “That’s just one more thing we don’t have to worry about here.”
King said they have used the shelters in years past for storms.
“We can be in there very quickly,” she said. “Probably 30-45 seconds.”
Truxler said they keep the school secure enough an active shooter should not be able to come into a school building in the first place, but they are choosing to stay prepared for the unthinkable.
“You may be shoulder to shoulder, toe to toe, but you’re going to be safe.”
Truxler said from the time they got these shelters in 2018 to now, their district has grown in a few hundred students, and the shelters have played a role in the jump.