Published On: Wed, Dec 26th, 2018

Carter Talks: Community Advisory Panel

Jon Carter

It’s hard to believe that 10 months ago South Florida was home to one of the most horrific massacres, the Parkland Highschool Shooting. Although the media coverage has faded and the political battles have simmered, there is one group that is still keeping the school safety conversation alive and well. That is, of course, students.

The Community Advisory Panel was created in 2016 after the “sunsetting” of multiple city advisory boards, including the educational advisory board. The CAP’s primary focus is to act as an outreach committee for City Council and report public opinion and suggestions regarding quality of life issues in Boca Raton.  The Panel meets on the second Thursday of every month at 6 pm for about an hour and holds a “Town Hall” style meeting a couple times throughout the year. Every meeting is open to residents and attendance is highly encouraged! I have served as one of the inaugural members of the Panel and was elected by my peers to serve as Vice Chairman of the Panel this year. Our Panel was tasked by the Mayor and Council with hosting a Town Hall on School Safety after the Parkland Massacre. The town hall took place in March and was attended by an overwhelming amount of students from Boca Raton Public High and Middle Schools. These students were brilliant! From their perspectives on the events occurring around them to their suggestions on what Government and School Officials should do to keep them safe.  

As (formerly) the youngest member of the Community Advisory Panel I can remember my high school days very vividly and after hearing the perspectives of my elders I can tell you that our Education System has changed drastically.  The students were able to identify areas and practices witnessed for years that they deemed a security concern and it was honestly shocking how many students believed that their school wasn’t secure and were terrified they could be next. No one should have to go to school wondering if today is the day they are going to die. How can you learn in that environment?  Now flashforward to the November 8th town hall, which was open to any topic, residents in attendance discussed a need for a traffic light for the Clint Moore RD entrance to Wood Field County Club, their adamant opposition to any beachfront development in Boca Raton (which I think we can all agree on) and that schools have implemented certain procedures to increase safety but that we have a long way to go.

I have a lot of experience in school safety from my time as a Student Body President. I have served on security committees for the College and attended many conferences around the nation focusing on school safety and other challenges in education. I also directed a video on Lockdown educations and procedures during my time at Palm Beach State College. Proper lockdown education in the K-12 system is a must. They have codes for every situation you could think of but what good does it do when students aren’t aware of what do in those situations. In my years as a K-12 student, I can recall practicing fire drills every couple of weeks but not one lockdown drill. Lockdown education needs to become a routine. Thoughts and Prayers will not bring back those that have fallen victim to these tragedies and neither will they protect our students, that is our responsibility.

Although the Community Advisory Panel is just that… Advisory. I am very optimistic after the response from City Council and School Board Representative in regards to our feedback and policy suggestions that we, as a panel brought forward thanks to the incredible and brilliant students of Boca Raton. The Panel will present our next report in early 2019.

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