Safety stakeholders and school safety experts from around the state have come together to form Idaho's new Safe Schools Task Force. The team has already begun meeting to share their perspectives on improving school safety as part of an ongoing commitment to safety in Idaho schools.
The Safe Schools Task Force aims to provide specific recommendations for school safety in Idaho, answering the following two questions:
The task force is taking a renewed look at the work started in 2007, when Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna called together a group of stakeholders to address school safety and security after a tragic school shooting at a schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania. The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut have added a new urgency to this discussion.
In its first meeting, the new task force worked to clarify discussion parameters and determine its scope and goals. Team members participated in a robust and productive discussion of current barriers to security and offered proposals for solutions.
Much discussion surrounded the challenge of finding the right balance of security and convenience–two desirable 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.
In its second meeting, the group further discussed its mission of creating a culture of readiness, building local capacity to respond to crisis situations, and ensuring parents, students, and staff feel safe in Idaho schools. The group's work is on-going.
In his FY2014 budget request to the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), Superintendent Luna requested $150,000 to support the work of the task force to ensure Idaho's schools are prepared in the case of emergencies and to ensure safe learning environments in Idaho's schools.
We will continue to update you on the work of this task force in future newsletters.