Thursday, January 24, 2013

Newly Developed Task Force for School Safety Holds First Meeting

Safety stakeholders and school safety experts from around the state met today at the Idaho State Department of Education to share their perspectives as part of an ongoing commitment to safety in Idaho schools.

The State of Idaho took an in-depth look at school safety in 2007 and 2008, convening a stakeholder group and conducting a statewide assessment. Based on that work, the state developed best practices, established a template crisis response plan, and held statewide trainings, among other things.

Now, after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna asked the stakeholder group to convene once again to take a renewed look at school safety.

This morning, he requested $150,000 from the Idaho Legislature to fund the group’s work over the next year.

The group is made up of educators and law enforcement. The safe schools task force aims to provide specific recommendations for school safety in Idaho, with the following questions as a starting point for conversation:

  • What do safe, healthy, thriving schools look like?
  • What are some recommendations to bridge the gap between where we are now and where we need to be in the future in terms of school safety and emergency preparedness?

After clarifying discussion parameters and determining the task force’s scope and goals, team members participated in a robust and productive discussion of current barriers to security and proposals for finding solutions.

Much discussion focused on finding the right balance between security and convenience—two factors that are often directly at odds. Discussion also lingered on complacency and the need for the state and its citizens to recognize that tragedies can happen anywhere. Emergency preparation isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessity.

The task force will meet again in February to continue its discussion.


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