LETTER: Enhancing school safety at the Legislature

To the Editor: 

In late March, the House unveiled a legislative package aimed at putting student safety first. We have taken a multifaceted approach that includes resources to meet the needs of students and schools statewide.

In total, we are proposing approximately $50 million in new mental health and school safety funding.

We spoke with school officials, teachers, parents and students about how to make our schools safe. Our multi-pronged approach enhances school security, addresses student mental health and provides our districts with needed funding and flexibility to keep our kids safe.

I am a co-author on many of the following proposals that are currently advancing through the committee process: School resource officers, student support personnel and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a floor level of funding for small schools; school building security upgrades and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems; school-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids; physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies; suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress; and school-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers and staff.

I am proud of the package we have put forward and am committed to moving forward to bring these reforms into law. Protecting our kids and making our schools safer is something that transcends any political divide.

Rep. Regina Barr, House District 52B

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