Letter: Use Legacy Fund dollars to make our schools safe
Another school season has come and gone and North Dakota's luck has held again. So far we haven't had a school shooting in our state. Our neighbors have experienced them, but so far we've been spared, but not by anything we've done. It seems like there's a school shooting every month, if not weekly. Before you go jumping to conclusions, this isn't about taking anyone's guns, or arming teachers, or even mental illness. It's just that I don't want any parent, grandparent or friend sending their children to school and end up having to identify them at a morgue. I just want us to be proactive instead of reactive.
I propose that all of our schools have their major entries fitted with bulletproof glass and metal detectors. If we can put these in our courthouses and even the Fargodome to protect football fans and concertgoers, why not our schools?
Secondly, all classrooms should have bulletproof doors and a secure locking system. No child should have to seek safety under their desk or hide in a closet praying to be spared.
Lastly, every elementary, middle and high school should have at least one resource officer. Although they will be part of the local metro police force or local sheriff's department, their salaries will not be a burden to the taxpayer. How will all this be possible? It's called the Legacy Fund. From current released information the fund has over $4.2 billion in principal and $5.4 billion in total assets, projected to be at least $6 billion by the next legislative session. Since inception, the fund has averaged over $500 million in principal per year and as of now is gaining another4 60 million per year in capital gains. As of July 1, 2017, the assets could be tapped which the legislature did, taking $200 million just to balance the budget.
Even though 15 percent of the principal can be used, I'm glad they aren't planning on touching it. But with around $1 billion in capital gains up for grabs, we've begun to hear some proposals from our legislators. Some want to use it for infrastructure, others want low interest loans, and even the governor would like to use some for more innovation in government. But I think we should protect our number one asset--our children!
I know the rules for dispersion will have to be changed. The funds for the schools should be grants, not low interest loans. All of these projects should be at no cost to the local taxpayer. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, it's a kid issue. When shooters go in they don't care about political party, they don't care if the victims are white, black, Asian, Hispanic or Indian, they just want to kill!
I know there will be lots of naysayers saying it's too costly or it just can't be done, but they'll be the ones with blood on their hands when a school shooting happens here. Will these proposals stop all attempts? No, but they will give our kids and teachers time and access to a safe area. Our rural schools are especially vulnerable so we must not waste time debating the issue. Come on North Dakota, we can do this. We have the funds, let our state lead the nation on how it should be done. Remember, proactive instead of reactive! These kids are our future leaders let's show them how it's done.
Ziegler lives in Oakes, N.D.