How Safe are Students in Jonesboro Schools?

January 4, 2006 -- Posted at 6:28 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- On Wednesday a Jonesboro kindergarten teacher found an un-loaded hand gun in the pocket of a students' coat.

Budget concerns could limit or possibly eliminate school resource officers from the Jonesboro School District.

Thursday a letter was sent home with each kindergartner explaining what happened yesterday to parents.  The purpose of the letter is to inform parents about the incident and reassure them that students are safe when they are at school.

"It is a situation where no one knew anything," said school board member Keith Hendrix.

Until school board member Keith Hendrix says this unloaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol was found by a kindergarten teacher.

"The teacher became aware of the situation and there were no kids in any danger at any time," said Hendrix.

Principal Bryan Russell said the school has received a lot of calls about the incident.

"Our parents were very supporting and I think they really understood that this wasn't something we could have controlled coming into school," said Russell.

The Jonesboro Kindergarten Center has its own School Resource Officer.

"It's no surprise to anyone that a person who was looking to enter a school building to do harm would be less likely to do so if there was an armed security officer there," said Russell.

As we've previously reported, S.R.O. positions in Jonesboro elementary schools could be cut in the next year if funding isn't made available from the state.

Regardless, Russell said the Jonesboro Kindergarten Center is very well protected with security cameras.

"We have air locked doors.  You have to be buzzed in to get in also we're completely gated all the way around our property," said Russell.

If the resource officers are lost the school does have a back up plan.

"If we had to hire monitors for the parking, we would.  If we had to hire outside help in a situation like that... we're always open to anything.  The number one priority is going to be the safety of the kids," said Hendrix.