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News & Press: Legislation & Advocacy

School Safety Proposal Prioritizes SROs and Additional Safety Measures

Thursday, February 21, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Professional Educators of Tennessee
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

SCHOOL SAFETY PROPOSAL PRIORITIZES SROS AND ADDITIONAL SAFETY MEASURES   [View/Download PDF]

 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced on Thursday a new investment in school safety to better protect teachers and students and prepare against the threat of violence.

 

“The safety of our children and teachers is a top priority for my administration, and this investment ensures that school districts will have the resources they need to better protect our schools,” said Lee.

 

This was a high priority for Professional Educators of Tennessee, according to the executive director of the organization JC Bowman. The organization conducted a statewide assessment on safety in 2018. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and Bowman also conducted a well-publicized School Safety Town Hall in Hamilton County in 2018. 

 

Gov. Lee is proposing a $40 million investment for the school safety grant fund. Legislation filed will provide additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to school resource officers.

 

Approximately 500 Tennessee schools do not currently have SROs, and changes to the law will enable them to fill these positions. The proposal also accommodates underserved counties working to secure schools and fill SRO positions by adjusting limited match requirements to be proportional to districts’ fiscal capacity.

 

“Several members of the legislature have begun working on school safety measures,” said Lee. “We commend their efforts and look forward to working together to protect our students and teachers.”

 

The new funding plan also enables schools that currently have an SRO to pursue grants to fund other safety priorities such as implementing building security measures or developing innovative violence prevention programs.

 

“While we are providing resources for additional security measures for our schools, districts need to also consider programming that identifies students who are in need of intervention,” said Lee. “Security is paramount, but we must also double down on efforts to identify harmful situations before they arise.”

 

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Department of Education will jointly oversee programming and grant funds while also providing threat assessment tools.

 

“One of the highest priorities we can have in American society is the safety and protection of children - and the men and women who teach them” according to Bowman. He added, “we think this is a very positive step in keeping our schools safe and reducing school violence.”

 

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please call 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

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