KENNEBUNK — School safety remains a priority as local officials reflect on the tragic school shooting that happened recently in Florida.

On Feb. 14, 17 people died in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student at the school, 19-year-old Nkolas Cruz, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bail.

“The RSU 21 School Community is incredibly saddened by the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida,” said Regional School Unit 21 Superintendent Katie Hawes in a written statement on Friday. “School shootings are occuring in increasing numbers. While the reasons for these senseless acts of violence remain debated, it is critical that we continue to work together to safeguard our students and staff.”

Hawes said school officials for the RSU, which covers Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, have worked hard in conjunction with local first responders over the last decade to put many proactive and preventative measures in place.

Kennebunk Chief Craig Sanford and Kennebunkport Lt. Eric O’Brien said in the statement that school safety is a priority for their departments.

“Our officers are familiar with school layouts, events in the school community, and work with staff to conduct safety drills and plan for extraordinary events. In addition to school resource officers, our officers routinely visit schools to maintain a presence in a positive manner,” said O’Brien.

Hawes said the school had provided counselors last week for students and resources for parents and guardians.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to examine and update our emergency preparedness plans and protocols in partnership with our local law enforcement agencies,” said Hawes. “While we cannot prevent every unsafe act that may occur in our schools, we can work tirelessly to deter, prepare for, and minimize potential threats. School safety is our top priority.”

Saco Superintendent of Schools Dominic DePatsy said in his weekly letter to parents that the Saco School District continues to strengthen the school safety and crisis response plans and take every precaution to protect the safety of students and staff.

DePatsy shared a list of resources for staff and parents regarding to talking to children after a shooting and responding to tragedy.

“We encourage you to reach out if you have questions, concerns or feel like you or your child needs to talk,” wrote DePatsy.

 — Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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