What began as a pledge by a Corbin area law firm towards the purchase of metal detectors for Corbin Independent Schools has blossomed into an effort to help school systems across the region and the state.
In a video released on Copeland and Romines Law Office’s Facebook page Thursday morning, attorney Shane Romines offered $20,000 to the school system to purchase the metal detectors.
“I don’t know about you, but I have been sickened and I have been shocked watching the horror of school shootings and the live videos of students cowering in fear as some crazy person goes through their school with a firearm,” Romines said in the video.
In additional, videos posted on the firm’s Facebook page, Romines said he has since spoken with officials at the Whitley County, Williamsburg, Knox County, Laurel County and Barbourville school systems, making similar offers.
In addition, outside pledges for various school systems have been made from individuals and businesses.
Dr. Amy Brock pledged an additional $10,000 towards Corbin Schools, as did Sav-Rite Pharmacy.
“Right now, we are somewhere in the mid 50’s for Corbin,” Romines said in an interview Tuesday.
Laurel County Sheriff John Root pledged $10,000 toward Laurel County Schools and Monday night Thompson Drug in London pledged $10,000 for Laurel County.
“We had calls into the office with people telling me to write it down and hold them to it,” Romines said of the pledges.
A $2,000 pledge has been made for metal detectors at Oak Grove Elementary.
Romines said he spoke with Whitley County Superintendent Scott Paul and that officials are studying the feasibility of installing metal detectors in such a vast school system
The school system is comprised of nine buildings in addition to the central office in Williamsburg.
“I informed him (Paul) even if they decided not to go with walk thru detectors, our office will be happy to help them raise funds for other measures,” Romines said in his Facebook update.
Romines said Knox County officials have accepted the offer of help with plans to install the metal detectors at Knox Central and Lynn Camp.
Romines said he spoke with Corbin Superintendent Dave Cox about the offer on Tuesday and that after speaking with Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety at Eastern Kentucky University on Monday, Corbin officials are requesting two hand-held wand type detectors.
“We will get them some wands or whatever they need,” Romines said explaining after school officials met with Akers Monday at Corbin High School, he had recommended Corbin use the mobile detectors and conduct random searches.
Romines said he spoke with Williamsburg Superintendent Dr. Amon Couch and Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird concerning metal detectors at the school Tuesday.
“They do believe they can use a metal detector at events and some things of that nature,” Romines said of Couch and Bird adding they are in the process of putting together an overall security plan.
Romines said Williamsburg officials are in the process of securing quotes for security cameras and other security measures.
“I asked them to send us the quote and I will try to help them raise funds,” Romines said.
Romines said Bell and Clay County schools officials have also contacted him concerning the proposal.
“I am happy to go to any board meeting within a reasonable distance to promote this,” Romines said. “We want our schools statewide to have the security they need.”
Romines said he understands that such decisions are not made in the few days since he first made the offer.
The Corbin Board of Education last met on Feb. 15 and is scheduled to meet again on March 15.
Whitley County and Williamsburg school boards have already had their regularly monthly meetings in February.
“We don’t want to leave our donors hanging, but we need to give these boards a reasonable amount of time to go through the process,” Romines said in explaining how he came to the March 31 deadline for the offer.
“The money will be there if they decide to go forward,” Romines added.
Romines said in an interview Friday that as the father of two kindergarten students at Corbin Primary School, he has seen them and countless other students, faculty, staff and others go through the front doors of the building.
“Right now, there is no security,” Romines said noting that it would be easy for someone with bad intentions to blend in with the crowd and walk right inside.
Romines said the prices he has received on metal detectors similar to what is currently used at the Whitley County Judicial Center is between $3,000 and $5,000.
The Corbin school system currently has six school buildings housing preschool through 12th grade, along with the alternative school in the former Corbin City Utilities Building on Main Street and the central office building on Roy Kidd Ave.
While the final decision on metal detectors would rest with the board of education, Cox said he is ready and willing to work with members of the community.
“We welcome any help to keep our students and staff safe,” Cox said.
In addition to the metal detectors, Romines is offering an additional $5,000 to Corbin Schools system to purchase Tasers and/or guns to arm school personnel and to provide professional instruction in their use.
Cox said while he would need to check on the legalities of that, it is his understanding that current state law prohibits anyone other than law enforcement from possessing firearms on school property.
Corbin Police have two full-time school resource officers. Both officers are armed and in uniform. While they may be called to the other schools as needed, the officers are typically found at the middle and high schools.
Romines said Cox told him the biggest concern in regards to school safety is that the resources officers may no longer be at the schools when the new school year begins in August.
The $104,000 grant that funds the school resource officers ends at the end of the current school year.
“His priority is keeping those officers in place,” Romines said of Cox adding that should also be a priority to members of the community.
Cox said the school’s finance officer has warned that state cuts to education funding could result in as much as $800,000 less for Corbin schools.
The school system’s current budget is approximately $28 million.
“If we keep them (resource officers), it is another chunk of money out of an already depleted budget,” Cox said adding that the school board would have to decide where to make cuts depending on the how much funding is lost.
“There has not been a decision on what would be cut,” Cox said.
Cox added that donations to the school system are always welcome and that the donor may earmark the donation.
“You could say, ‘Use this for books at the library,’ or ‘Use this for school security,’ or “Use this for practice equipment for the football team,” Cox explained.