Aiming to improve school safety and security, the Board of Education is looking for some K9 assistance. At their April 22 meeting, the BOE approved a pilot program that will see Interquest Detection Canines bring drug and weapon-sniffing dogs to county middle and high schools.

“I know that this is something that’s new to the district. What we’d like to have is a trial period for the first semester,” said Superintendent Dr. Jody Barrow.

Barrow said the cost is roughly $840 per visit, with each visit split among schools. If the program goes well this fall, he expects to ask the board to expand the program.

“We’re going to watch this very carefully. If it proves to be beneficial, we want to come back for a longer term agreement, but we wanted to try this trial visit at least for first semester next year.”

Board Member Leonard Presberg expressed some trepidation over the message the presence of the canines could send, particularly to students. While he said he understood the reasoning behind the program, he had two reasons he was hesitant to support the plan, its potential damage to relationships and his philosophical opposition.

“I’m not sure this helps us build relationships with students who already feel like they’re in, a lot of times to them, an oppressive situation,” Presberg said. “We are good at eroding our individual privacy rights. We talk about the Constitution and what this country was founded on, and we talk a lot about the Second Amendment, but we’ve kind of given up on the Fourth, and I think when we normalize more and more incursions into our personal liberties, especially as technology and things become greater and greater, I think we lose something, and I think our kids lose something and that becomes a normal part of their lives.”

The pilot program was approved by a 4-1 vote.