JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Don’t arm teachers, but add more people and resources for prevention and physical improvements in case of emergencies to make schools safer. That’s the message the Jefferson County School Board heard from it’s school safety task force, who presented their recommendations after months of research.
“This is all about student and staff safety,” John McDonald of the district’s Department of Safety said.
The task force was made up of of educators, law enforcement members, mental health experts, and community members. Some of their main suggestions included:
- More psychologists, social workers, counselors, and training regarding mental health
- Better communication about threats and reporting concerns
- Adding campus security at all middle schools and adding more campus supervisors (but not arming teachers)
- Physical improvements such as safer windows, exterior door alarms, interior door locks, and newer security camera systems
While the suggestions did include physical and literal changes to buildings, one of the main efforts that the task force pushed had to do with mental health.
“They would hugely make a difference for school safety. That early prevention, early detection, early services allows our schools to be proactive in serving our children,” task force member Shawna Fritzler said.
“The more we can do and the better prevention piece that we have within the district, it lends itself to better response preparedness and unfortunately sometimes recovery as well,” John McDonald added.
Presenting their recommendations was only a first step. Now the board can discuss which items to move forward with, including having to secure funding. A district spokesperson says a lot of that will depend on what voters decide in November regarding bonds and ballot measures.