James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 21

each community to ensure that students can learn and
thrive in an environment where they not only feel
protected but are truly safe.”
The first meeting of the Senate School Safety Study
Committee was held at North Springs High School in
Sandy Springs where committee members heard
presentations from the Georgia Department of Education,
Fulton County schools, students, teachers, parents and
local law enforcement representatives. The website for the
committee is www.gasenatek12safety.com and serves
as a one-stop-shop for all meeting information including
presentations, videos and any other supporting materials.
“Hearing from each of these different groups is
critically important to determine what is working and
where there is opportunity for improvement,” said Albers.
“The job of this committee is to listen, compile the
information and make actionable recommendations.
Holding meetings such as these and with the launch of
the website for this committee, we hope that everyone
will take the opportunity to provide feedback and have
their voices heard.”
“There have been 42 school shootings so far this
year,” said one student who was identified as a rising
senior from Centennial High School. “I don’t want this
to happen in my school. I’m thankful you’re working on
this.” Another student, an upcoming junior at South
Cobb High School, said he felt the “committee is a
great start.”
Dr. Garry McGiboney of the Georgia Department of
Education feels “legislation alone will not ensure safe
schools but it will lay the foundation for safer schools.”
According to McGiboney, statistics show school
discipline incidents increased over the last three
years— including academic dishonesty, computer
trespass, vandalism and handguns. He added that most
handguns in the schools are brought in by students
from their homes.
McGiboney says the DOE has created a Crisis
Management and Prevention Manual which includes
information from Georgia Emergency Management
Agency and the training they provide to schools—
including training on handling active shooters and
gang activity.
He added that the DOE is working on various
projects including a statewide conference call with all
local school systems to discuss a safety assessment and
to assist in scheduling active shooter drills instead of fire
drills on certain months.
enhance student safety. The funding was created by
HB 763, which provides the criteria for the $16 million.
This legislation is designed to improve coordination
between schools and local law enforcement while
assisting schools to establish comprehensive school
safety plans before the 2018 school year begins.
Every local school district will receive a base amount
of $25,000, and the remaining $11.5 million will be
allocated based on the number of students enrolled in
each district. State law requires districts to use the
funding for improvements or refurbishments to a district’s
physical footprint (for example, fencing or security doors)
and/or equipment which can be capitalized (for example,
security camera systems).
This effort is part of a broader, comprehensive
approach to school safety that includes deep
conversations around school climate and culture,
statewide partnerships with organizations like the
Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Agency, the Georgia attorney general and the three U.S.
attorney offices.
Georgia is hopefully “good and getting better,” but
there are obviously new challenges than from just a few
years ago.
Cindy Morley is a staff writer for James and InsiderAdvantage.
More school safety funding
In June the state school superintendent also
released detailed information to districts regarding $16
million in bond funding available to help schools
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8


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