Increasing mental health services is a vital part of school security for Madison City Schools

MADISON, Ala. - Parents, students, and lawmakers have all been working to find a solution to make schools safer and prevent tragedies like the one in Santa Fe.
One solution many are pushing for is to increase mental health services.

Safety is something that keeps Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker up at night.

"I can promise you that we all, everyone one of us, wake up every morning usually two or three times during the night worried about it, and it is something that I worry about all day, every day, the safety of our students," Parker said.

The district has a multi-layer approach to safety. Security guards are posted in the parking lots of both high schools. There are measures to monitor every person who walks in the door at each school district-wide.

"There's an airlock. You have to be buzzed in to get to the student areas. We just constantly do things like checking doors," Parker said.

But there is another safety component that Parker thinks needs more attention, mental health counselors available to students on campus.

"We don't have as many as we need. We do not have one in every school all the time. And I don't know that we need one in every school all the time, but we need more to increase coverage."

A counselor isn't as obvious as a locked door or a guard, but many school officials say it is an essential part of security since those professionals are equipt to recognize mental health issues.

This is becoming increasingly important as more are pushing to treat mental health problems as a way to prevent violence.

"We want to get to the root of the problem and address any issue that any child has and that's why our mental health counselors are so important," Parker said.

It's so important that even though the school doesn't get funding from the state for mental health counselors the district is fundraising to pay for their salaries and hope to employ up to four more next school year.

The district is also fundraising to employ more school resource officers.

All in all the district is working to raise $755, 500 to do this, but so far has also raised about $20,000. Even if the district doesn't get the donations  Superintendent Parker says they are are going to work to make room in the budget to hire these employees.

You can find a link to donate on the Madison City Schools website.

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