As of Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Solutions to school safety have been emotional and driven with the passions of recent crises. Obviously, we’d be negligent to knee jerk and adopt the solutions of the heat of the moment. The problem is multifaceted, and it needs the input of many to provide options that can be thoroughly vetted and pushed for adoption with unity.
Idaho looks to have such an effort in the works.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra has her hand out to Idahoans to weigh in on her proposed Keep Idaho Students Safe initiative. Residents can comment in an online survey, accessible through the State Department of Education’s (SDE) website (www.sde.idaho.gov/kiss/index.html).
Survey feedback will help to finalize plans before Superintendent Ybarra asks lawmakers in January for immediate funding — estimated at $20.8 million — via a supplemental budget request.
The initiative proposes three major upgrades:
• Security grant funding to help schools hire and train security personnel. Districts that already have school resource officers (SRO) could apply to expand their SRO program or fund other security measures. Estimated cost: $18.67 million.
• A three-credit, 45-hour safety course required for teacher recertification and, later, for initial certification. It would focus on protecting students and addressing risk behaviors, including the suicide-prevention training called for in this year’s House Bill 634. Estimated cost: $1.99 million.
• A statewide crisis communications counselor, based at the SDE, to help school counselors and their districts prevent and prepare for crises, as well as help respond to emergencies. Estimated cost: $116,584, including operational funds.
“We know what we want to do – help schools and districts keep their students safe through education, trained security presence and statewide resources to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies,” Superintendent Ybarra said. “But it’s essential to get feedback from schools, students and families to make sure their concerns and needs are represented.”
We’re all tired of the rhetoric the extremes sides in this school safety have been trumpeting through the news in recent weeks, which can make us angry or drop out of this issue altogether. For Idahoans, here’s an opportunity to step away from that unproductive shrill noise and become involved in a thoughtful process to develop our own solution.