When the Missouri legislature passed a safe schools act in 19-96, it could not have anticipated the kinds of dangers in the hallways that many schools have experienced since then. An effort has been re-launched in the legislature to respond to the new challenges of school safety.
Senator John Loudon wants to start with nine-million dollars in the Safe Schools Fund, money districts could use for training….security cameras…more internet safety training—whatever a district needs. Loudon says public safety is one of the "most solemn duties of government," and that duty is especially important in the schools.
He tells the senate education committed the safe schools act of 19-96 could not have anticipated terrorism and hallways shootings…but they have to be dealt with today.
Loudon’s bill requires districts to have an anti-bullying policy, to regularly conduct safety drills, and do other things. In return, the state will give the district money for improved safety.
One supporter is Joplin superintendent Jim Simpson. That’s the district where a 14-year old boy is accused of trying to kill a school principal with an assault rifle—stopped only because the rifle malfunctioned. He says his district takes 200-thousand dollars a year away from instruction .and spends it on meeting the security challenges of a new world. As Simpson puts it: "Instruction is what we do. But when safety (of our children) comes into the picture, it trumps all."
This is the second time around for this proposal from Loudon. Lawmakers didn’t have time to pass it last year.