VIENNA, IL – Vienna High School is your typical small-town school, but administrators’ approach to safety is anything but typical.
“The tragedies of the last 10 to 15 years are unacceptable,” says Vienna High School Superintendent Joshua Stafford.
Stafford says the deadly shooting at Marshall County High School hit close to home and proved that type of tragedy can happen anywhere.
“It is reality, so whatever my feelings are on it, I have to put them in the parking lot and realize that my first priority is to keep our children safe,” says Stafford.
The first step Vienna is taking to keep children safe is to put five resource officers on all campuses at all times.
“This has been a need for many years prior to Marshall County,” says Vienna Police Chief Jim Miller.
Miller says the need for school resource officers goes beyond shootings. “There is just too many crimes that happen on a school campus. I’m not referring to Vienna, but you have drugs, you have instances with fighters, burglaries, damage to properties. There are all kinds of instances that can come, because where people are at, there is crime,” says Miller.
Stafford says school safety is about more than just having the tools to respond to a physical threat, but also about prevention.
“We’ve taken several steps, from having a school-based school counselor in our building through our local mental health agency family counseling,” says Stafford.
One of the biggest obstacles Vienna faces with school safety is having an older building that was designed for a different era of education.
“If you drive a circle around our building, you are going to notice several entry and exit points. If you drive around McCracken County High School, that building was designed with school safety in mind, and this one wasn’t,” Stafford says.
Because of the building design, Vienna High School is installing a buzz-in system at the front door and changing all other entries to card-based locks. Each faculty member will have a card they swipe that will unlock the door.
Even with all the new safety procedures in place, Stafford says it’s important to not get complacent.
“I doubt that we have come to an end of it, so we have to be ready. We have to be prepared,” Stafford says.