House GOP leaders unveil school security proposal; KASB says schools already have plans

Schools would be required to adopt a safety plan based on statewide standards under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by House Republican leaders. 

School districts could also tap into a $5 million grant program for infrastructure and training under the proposed Kansas Safe and Secure Schools Act.  

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, called the plan “a comprehensive approach to making schools safer for our kids and coordinating with schools and local law enforcement to improve school security infrastructure.” 

In response to the proposal, KASB noted that schools have long been working on safety and security plans and in recent years, many schools have dedicated portions of their school bond issues for enhanced security and FEMA-approved safe rooms.  

And while support and guidance from the state is appreciated, KASB said one-size does not always fit all school districts. In addition, KASB said student safety and well-being would be improved by the hiring of more school counselors and social workers, as proposed by the governor’s budget and State Board of Education’s Kansans Can goals. 

Lawmakers in many states and Washington, D.C. are working on ways to respond to the recent public outcry after the Feb. 14 assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. Surviving students and gun control advocates have scheduled a march and rally in Washington and other cities March 24 to urge new gun laws. 

The Kansas measure calls on the Kansas State Department of Education to work with the Kansas Adjutant General, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and other state agencies to develop statewide requirements for safe public school buildings.  

Each school district would coordinate with local law enforcement and emergency management entities to review current security policies and adopt a comprehensive security plan based on the statewide standards. These standards could include staff and student training, building infrastructure, lockdown procedures, and other necessary policies. 

The proposal also would provide standardized firearm safety education programs offered to school districts and would appropriate funds to KSDE for two employees to review and evaluate school safety plans and provide technical assistance.  

Earlier this session, legislators considered HB 2460, which would have required school districts offering firearm safety education programs to use the NRA Eddie the Eagle or Kansas Wildlife and Parks hunter safety programs. Action on the bill was postponed to allow for a more comprehensive approach, legislative leaders said. KASB believes schools should have flexibility in providing firearms safety programs, the same as any other curriculum or program. 

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