Budget has school safety funding

The final budget bill of the 2018 Kansas legislative session includes $5 million in state school safety funding and requires the Kansas State Board of Education develop and adopt statewide school safety standards. The State Board and local school board members must work with law enforcement and other partners to develop and maintain school safety plans to be adopted by each school district. Many Kansas school boards have previously adopted school safety and security plans; districts that wish apply for the safety matching funds will need to align their plans with the state standards.

The bill also directs the State Board to develop curriculum guidelines for a standardized firearm safety program for districts that choose to offer such programs.

H Sub for SB 109, which passed bipartisan support in both houses of the state legislature, was a touch-up bill that restored funding for some Fiscal Year 2018 programs and added funding for some FY 2019 programs. The new K-12 schools fiscal year begins July 1. Lawmakers in 2017 passed a two-year state budget; the Kansas legislature traditionally passes supplemental budget funding toward the end of each legislative session.

The bill, which Governor Jeff Colyer plans to sign, includes language approved by the House of Representatives during the 2018 session that provides $5 million in state matching funds for school safety and security grants. The bill was introduced in the wake of the February school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida and passed the House handily but died in the Senate. House and Senate negotiators added the language to the budget bill as the session ended.

In addition to the matching fund, the bill requires the State Board by January 1, 2019 to develop and adopt statewide standards for “making all public schools and attendance centers operated by school districts in this state safe and secure.” The board must consult with the state adjutant general, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the department of health and environment, the state Fire Marshal and any other state agencies it deems necessary. The State Board may also work with and local agencies and school boards.

The standards must include but aren’t limited to: school infrastructure including secured entrances and windows; security technology, including, but not limited to alarms and security cameras; communications systems, including, but not limited to, systems for interoperability between the school district and law enforcement agencies; and any other systems or facilities the state board determines necessary.

Further, the standards must provide for, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Evaluation of the infrastructure of school buildings and attendance centers for compliance with the State Board’s standards;
  2. Training of school district employees on school safety and security policies and procedures and conducting student drills on emergency situations;
  3. Procedures for notifying individuals located outside of the school building during emergency situations and maintaining communication with law enforcement agencies and others;
  4. Procedures for securing school buildings during an emergency situation;
  5. Procedures for emergency evacuation of school buildings, including evacuation routes and sites;
  6. Procedures for recovery after an emergency situation ceases;
  7. Coordination and incorporation of school safety and security plans with existing school district emergency response plans;
  8. Distribution of school safety and security plans to local law enforcement agencies and emergency management agencies;
  9. Procedures for ensuring there is accountability for adopting and implementing the school safety and security plan.

The State Board must also identify the role of local law enforcement agencies and local emergency management agencies when partnering with school districts in the development and implementation of school safety and security plans.

Before local school districts adopt the plans required by the state standards, they must work with local law enforcement emergency management agencies to review and evaluate district building infrastructure and current school district safety and security policies and procedures. The local agencies may provide guidance on improving a school district’s building infrastructure or safety and security policies and procedures.

Superintendents must submit the completed safety and security plans to the State Board.

School districts wishing to apply for a share of the $5 million in funding appropriated by the bill must submit and application to the State Board. The improvements sought in the grant application must adhere to the Board’s school safety standards to be eligible for funding.

H Sub for SB 109 also allows school districts to provide firearm safety training (several currently do so) and requires the State Board to establish curriculum guidelines for a standardized firearm safety program that can be based on the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program or “any other evidence-based program” for grades K-5. In grades 6-8 the curriculum may include Eddie Eagle or the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s hunter safety program. For high school, districts may use the KDWPT program “or any other evidence-based program.”

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