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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Nearly a week after the shootings in Connecticut, the arrest of an Ashley High School student who allegedly started rumors of a gunman at school Friday is raising more questions about the safety of our schools.

Many parents and school leaders think this is the time to make changes. They have a few ideas in mind, and they want county leaders to listen.

Wednesday night, the New Hanover County Board of education called a special meeting to discuss ways to protect students. One possibility is having deputies stand guard at elementary schools. Now they need county commissioners to support the plan.

“Thirty, 40 years ago we were not talking about putting armed deputies in our public schools. It is a sad commentary, I think, on our culture,” New Hanover County Commission Chair Woody White said. “But as leaders, we do not have the luxury of saying, ‘Well it will solve itself.’ It won’t.”

White says while deputies at schools may be a good idea, new safety measures do come at a price.

“The first obstacle is funding, and that is why I have spent the majority of my morning today and a large part of this week talking to the sheriff, the school board chairman, members of the school board and leaders from the beach towns and the city to see how we can share responsibility,” White said.

White says deputies are not the only step toward safer schools.

“We also need to have folks look at our schools themselves,” White said. “Can we replace doors with locked doors? Are there ways we can ingress and egress at some of our schools that would make it a lot safer to our kids?”

They are all questions White believes need to be answered as leaders consider how to best protect our schools.

White says commissioners recognize an immediate need to ensure student safety, but he encourages the public not to be too reactionary. He says this is a process that will require heavy thinking and time.

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