911 call boxes not worth costThursday, January 11, 2007 By Nancy Cen
The district really cares about the safety of its students. About a month ago, little black boxes were installed into every classroom across the district. Inside these boxes is an item forbidden to all students. Cell phones. Yes. They are here for our safety. It’s not easy to find out how much was spent on them because the phones are still being worked on. I doubt it was a small amount, though. These phones are not useless or anything, but they are hardly a necessity. We all know most teachers have cell phones of their own. It’s true that schools can’t rely on a teacher’s personal cell phone for emergencies. The newly installed phones are great backup if anything were to happen. I do want to thank whoever put in the money for the phones because they have an intention to create a safer learning environment. But there could be a better way to use money. Instead of using the money for other necessities, it was spent to get cell phones that schools aren’t in a big need of. Not only that, the phones also have some flaws of their own. If somebody were to walk into a classroom with a gun, is the person running to the phone faster or the bullet aimed at him? In the time it takes for someone to run to the phone and dial 911, the gunner could already aim the gun and shoot a couple of times. There is a situation or two where they may be useful, though. If there is a situation like Columbine, students and staff stuck in classrooms can use them to call for help. With growing violence and crime in Stockton, schools definitely need to be ready in case of any emergencies. Even if there is a need for the phones, it has more capabilities than it needs. The phone has a full color screen and picture taking capabilities just to dial three numbers. Getting a cheaper phone could have saved money. It may even be because of the quality of the phones that make it a target. Before the phones were wired down and branded to belong to the district, they were easy to steal. It’s sad to see people not appreciate what is being done for their safety. Not only that, they are stupid enough to steal a phone that can only dial 911. Now, with wires attaching the phones to the box, they are harder to steal. But another added feature also makes it harder to use. The phones now require a security code in order to work. Students don’t know this code so if anything happens, only the teacher can use them. Interestingly, though, the district had a last-minute notification to the schools of the installation of these phones. Mardell McKenzie, assistant principal in charge of discipline, was notified through e-mail the same weekend it was installed. To this day, she still does not know many details of the plan. Although we had no choice whether to have them, we should be glad that we are still getting help for bettering safety at school and we know there are still people who want to keep campuses safe.