With the uptick of school shooting tragedies, state lawmakers across the United States are setting aside large sums of money to help K-12 schools and districts bolster their school safety initiatives. They’re doing this through state and local school safety grants, which can be either be on the large scale, or on the smaller and more specific scale. Recently the State of Nevada announced a large $75 million school safety grant to target multiple aspects of school safety.
"We allocated an additional $75 million to school safety," said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. Both through the counseling side, the soft side, and on the hard side, hardening the targets with some physical improvements, with more cameras," Sisolak added. This additional school safety grant allowance in Nevada comes after the already alotted $1 million federal school safety grant from back in February 2018, after the devastating school shooting in Parkland, Florida. "In Parkland," said Christy McGill, Director of the Nevada Department of Education Division of Safe and Respectful Learning, "Many people knew that this young person was struggling." She added, "So, we're hoping with this multi-pronged approach, and by strengthening behavioral health in our schools, we can actually intervene earlier and de-escalate some of these kids."
The preventative measures Nevada K-12 schools and districts can take against school violence and security threats will be attainable with their newly developed multi-pronged approach to school safety.
Nevada’s Multi-Pronged School Safety Approach
So, what is the State of Nevada’s plan? Decision makers in Nevada are planning on allocating the funds and approaching school safety concerns from multiple angles. Mental health, school security and technology upgrades, and the hiring of additional school resource and school police officers are all initiatives communities across the state are pushing for.
Let’s break it down.
K-12 School Mental Health Awareness
Mental health concerns in K-12 schools and districts are a huge topic of conversation across the country. Years ago, the stigma against mental health made the topic rarely discussed or talked about. Now mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression are flooding public school classrooms in the United States. ESchoolNews tells us, “A survey conducted in February by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of teenagers identified mental health as a major issue among their peers—a number higher than bullying, drug addiction, or gangs.” This shocking statistic proves mental health awareness should be a priority for schools and school districts. Nevada is utilizing the school safety grant to hire more mental health professionals for their schools, as mounting research proves school-age children need the emotional support and access to counseling services.
School Security and Technology Upgrades
There are tons of school security measures and school safety technologies popping up, ranging from clear backpacks to school panic button applications. With school safety being at the forefront of many educators minds, implementing school security and safety upgrades helps instill confidence in K-12 schools as well as keeping those on school grounds safe. Nevada is choosing to upgrade their school security camera systems, as well as conduct threat assessments of school grounds. "That threat assessment around the school buildings itself will help schools decide what are the most important school safety features to fund first," said McGill.
Other states, such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Delaware, have implemented statewide school safety initiatives by installing the Rave Panic Button technology across all schools.
Additional School Police Personnel
School resource officers and school police officers are being more widely dispersed in K-12 schools with the rise of school security threats. The State of Florida has made it mandatory for each school to have one school resource officer or safe-school officer trained to act if there are any school emergencies. The school safety grant in Nevada is allowing schools across the state to hire more school police officers to help protect the students, staff, faculty, and visitors on school premises. Las Vegas news tell us, “In Clark County, Nevada's largest school district and the fifth-largest in the nation, Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara said more money will also be spent on hiring more school police officers. "We're really building on our police force to be a resource," said Jara, "not to really arrest our kids, but just really for their safety and security."” Initiatives like this will hopefully prevent future school safety threats and deter those who are considering committing crimes on school grounds.
The $75 million school safety grant in Nevada is sparking many different school safety initiatives that will cover K-12 schools from on-site security and police officers, to mental health counselors. Their multi-pronged approach to school safety is setting an example for other states to follow.
Are you looking into your school safety solutions? Consider taking a look at our school safety evaluation kit to see where your school is hitting the mark, and where your school may be falling short.
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