FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Tuesday, Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) held its first meeting to showcase the district’s new proposal for a health and safety referendum.

It gave parents a space to ask questions, provide feedback, and give suggestions.

The meeting was held at North Side High School. The proposal includes a referendum that, if approved, would provide funding for health and safety initiatives. This would include nine additional student resource officers, 17 additional mental health therapists for secondary levels, 56 student advocates, and a weapons detection system.

“We visited multiple school districts across the state of Indiana, they’re already doing this, but we’ve also gotten out of state – Chicago Public Schools and so forth. So we’re really wanting to do this the right way,” said FWCS Superintendent Mark Daniel.

Along with devices, Superintendent Daniel said it takes personnel and relationships to maintain safe environments.

“We’re after things like mental health providers, we’re after what we call student advocates. I think that’s the number one deterrent, relationships, so let’s invest in them,” Daniel said, “We’re also looking at more SROs. So we have those in all of our high schools as well as all of our middle schools.”

FWCS parent Maria Lehr said she appreciates the district’s focus on people.

“Getting to those kids who are seen as the outliers, you know focusing on hiring personnel because like they talked about tonight we can’t just do everything with equipment it doesn’t help get to the root of the problem, it doesn’t help catch everything and nothing will, but the people are really what matter… It’s the heart of this issue,” Lehr said.

Lehr said although she wishes the school district did not have to address such safety issues, she is thankful that they are taking matters into their own hands.

“I wish that wasn’t the state of our world, I wish our government could do more to protect our kids, but in the absence of that, I really appreciate a school system that’s willing to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done,” Lehr said.

FWCS will host four additional meetings for the public to attend and provide feedback before the FWCS Board of School Trustees have to decide whether the referendum will be voted on in the November election:

  • May 4, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at South Side High School
  • May 17, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Snider High School
  • May 23, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Northrop High School
  • June 5, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Wayne High School

The estimated maximum cost to taxpayers for this referendum is $76 a year. FWCS Board of School Trustees have until June 12 to make their decision.