Southeastern Community College president asks for money for school safety

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Nothing will make schools 100 percent safe, but some steps will make a difference.

That was Southeastern Community College President Anthony Clarke's message to Columbus County Commissioners on Monday night. Clarke asked the commissioners for additional funding for school safety at the commissioners meeting.

The request was part of the school's annual budget. Clarke wants to hire one more part-time armed campus officer. The school currently has one full-time and one part-time officer who are both armed.

According to Clarke, the school's lockdown in February after an attempted robbery and assault on campus prompted him to increase safety measures.

"One of the things an incident like this does is highlight safety and security," Clarke said. "We're always focused on security. We added security cameras and things like that. We're always trying to make sure our faculty and students are as safe as possible. When you take an incident like this, you take a step back. We actually did survey our students and staff and got some ideas from them."

The money, a little over $1,000, is part of the operational side of the annual budget. It also includes replacing the doors on campus with doors that open only from the inside.

On the capital budget side, the college requested $745,572.

This money would be used to update buildings on campus to what Clarke calls "reasonably modern facilities." He said the buildings need to be updated so Southeastern can compete with schools across the country.

"We are a county that faces challenges so giving online classes, hybrid classes, I think we can serve Columbus County with the buildings we have if we renovate them and make sure we're taking care of them," Clarke said. "There are spaces we can renovate and repurpose for better programs and things like that, but we need the money to do it."

According to Clarke, not investing in the campus now would lead to problems years down the line.

"We know we're in a competitive environment," Clarke said. "We need to make sure we stay in the competitive environment."

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