RIDGEFIELD, Wash. -- Recent mass shootings across the United States, including the Clackamas Town Center shooting and the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, prompted the Ridgefield School District in southwest Washington to hire armed guards.

Guards from the Spokane-based Phoenix Protective Corp. went to work this week at the district near Vancouver.

A lot of things are being stepped up, but I think that it's appropriate because we've never had this concern in this district specifically before, said Tyler Bieber, a senior at Ridgefield High.

The district also is encouraging students to ride school buses so their parents don't drive them. That's intended to reduce the number of adults arriving at a school.

The district had a city police officer patrolling full time until a grant ran out in 2010. Now the district will spend nearly $40,000 for private guards, new locks and other security measures in 2013.

Some, like Tim Kelly in downtown Ridgefield were skeptical about the idea.

There's incidents like what happened and then everybody jumps in and does something after the fact, he said.

Brooke Hatfield has a kindergartner in the district and likes the changes.

Its comforting. They're really trying to look out for our families and make us feel more secure, she said. Schools are still supposed to be welcoming to the community, so it's a fine line between security and making it a welcoming environment.

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