Gov. Holcomb to make school safety recommendations within the next two weeks

INDIANAPOLIS -- Although he's not ready to talk specifics just yet, Governor Eric Holcomb says he will release his recommendations on school safety in the next two weeks.

RTV6 asked the state's top education official if she thinks the state is doing enough right now to keep schools safe.

"No, I mean, we have a ways to go. We're doing some very basic things, and we're doing some things well. Our school safety academy is one of the best in the nation. But, we have some room to grow. We need to have some hard conversations from fiscal resources to districts to policy," said Jennifer McCormick, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

McCormick is providing input to the governor on the forthcoming recommendations.

"We want every school to have the same mandates and requirements, not just traditional public schools, but charters and non-pubs, so that we can assure parents there are safety measures that are put into place," said McCormick.

Wayne Township Schools Superintendent Jeff Butts hopes to see more funding included in the governor's recommendations. Specifically, money for mental health services.

He says it's critical to be able to identify when one of the 16,000 students in his schools needs help.

"Most of those things, if we can identify early, if we can help students get additional supports, really wrap them with that system of care, we can maybe avert the crisis and help that student out long term and work with the family and community," said Butts.

His district has been awarded nearly $190,000 in grants from the state Department of Homeland Security in the last five years.

The agency awards matching grants to help fund school resource officers and conduct threat assessments.

Butts says the program should be expanded. He says it would go a long way toward funding things like safety doors that allow staff to check visitors,before they're buzzed in.

"Communication devices that we could communicate with local law enforcement, additional cameras that we could utilize, door sensors to make sure that our exterior doors are closed," said Butts.

Districts are required to develop a safety and emergency preparedness plan and provide a copy to the state.

The state offers guidance to schools, runs drills, and requires districts to designate school safety specialists.

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