Champaign school system works on ways to make Unit 4 district safer

By Kalari Girtley

With more than 50 people in attendance, superintendent of the Champaign Unit 4 school district, Arthur Culver, opened the second meeting, which addressed safety issues.

This meeting was a follow-up to a discussion in December. Culver said these meetings were necessary because many of the issues occurring in the schools begin in the community. The meetings also served as a platform for parents and community leaders to come together and find solutions to growing problems in the Champaign school system.

“We knew that it was going to take more than the school to solve these problems,” Culver said.

Monday’s meeting was divided up into several different sections including, creative discipline, student empowerment, community and parent involvement, security issues, and others.

Culver said he feels students could be safer in schools, and one of the main focuses of Monday’s meeting was to incorporate resource officers into the schools. Currently staffed by off-duty police officers, the school’s resource officers would be responsible for study safety full-time. He is working with the city to help get financing for these resource officers. Culver said this is a national program, and he wants to bring it to Champaign.

“They will help educate the kids about drugs, violence, and they really become friends with the students,” Culver said. “This will bridge that gap of having a positive relationship with police officers that many students seem to lack today.”

Culver said both parents and students have been open to this idea.

“I would say 98 percent of them, if not more of the students I have communicated with, think that it is time to welcome having resource officers,” Culver said.

Shtoni Brown, a junior at Central High School, said she attended the meeting to discuss what she sees wrong with her school. She was selected by her school’s social workers to speak at the meeting.

“It is a lot of commotion and a lot of kids wanting to fight,” Brown said. “I think a lot of people have the same feelings and opinions that I have.”

Brian Easter, dean of students at Centennial High School, was the facilitator of the safety and security issues discussion.

“It will be interesting to hear different people from the community,” Easter said.

Culver said these meetings are a way for faculty and community members to stop being passive educators.