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The Calvert County Board of Education made it known two weeks ago it intends to request $600,000 from the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners to be spent on beefing up security in the county’s public schools. That’s a lot of cash.

But looked at in the light of the shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where a gunman left 20 kindergartners and a half-dozen adults dead, those with responsibility for the safety of the children in their care see no choice.

During the Jan. 10 meeting, board members heard from Calvert County Public Schools Executive Director of Administration Kim Roof and Director of School Construction George Leah. They told the board what the school system had been doing since the day of the shooting, including talking to local law enforcement and analyzing ways to keep someone from entering schools at will. The administration also discussed having the ability to lock classrooms, assigning an armed police officer on school grounds and installing additional security cameras at the campuses. Currently, a police officer is assigned to each of the four county high schools, while elementary and middle schools work closely with Maryland State Police troopers.

All these things are intended to improve the day-to-day security of the schools, spot intruders, break up fights and guard against vandalism and other disruptions. They are also, the hope is, a bulwark against violence, including the use of weapons by one student against others, as has been the pattern in a series of school shootings in the nation. Threats may be spotted and reported before any actions are carried out.

But with the heartbreaking loss of so many innocent young lives at Sandy Hook, new vulnerabilities suddenly loom. Leah remarked that while the most recently constructed elementary school, Barstow, was designed to prevent someone from entering the school without going through the main office, he pointed out that if someone were determined enough, they might be able to make their way past the main office and into the school proper. As he was quoted as saying, “Never did I think I’d ever be in a position to even answer some of these things.”

Think about that. Calvert school officials are asking for more than half a million dollars to guard against the possibility of a person roaming a school hallway with mass murder on his mind. In a better world that would be unimaginable. But now, in this world, it would be irresponsible of school officials not to imagine it.

The mass slaying at a Connecticut elementary school by a young man with no known motive and no known connection to the school short-circuits most normal precautions.

This was an external threat that couldn’t be prevented by security cameras, and the lives that were ended were of the youngest and most vulnerable of students.

How to guard against the possibility of intruders with rapid-fire weapons invading any classroom in Calvert? School officials will grapple with that, but others will have to address the broader question of how such weapons come into the hands of people who have made these precautions necessary.