Bills would beef up state school safety standards

Crozier says without an appropriation, bills are more unfunded mandates

LEE COUNTY - A new house bill focusing on school safety, in the wake of tragic shootings in Perry High School, is being moved forward by Iowa House Republicans.
House Study bills 692 and 695 include additional policies such as requiring comprehensive safety reviews and radio systems that can access the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System.
It also creates a taskfore to make recommendations for safety standards, implements a firearm detection pilot program and bars schools from using SAVE funds on athletic facilities until all bill criteria are met. In Bill 695, schools with more than 8,000 students would be required to have a full-time School Resource Officer and allows for permits for a school employee to carry a firearm after completing a comprehensive training course.
Central Lee Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier said school safety is top priority for students, staff, parents, and community members.
"School districts all went through a comprehensive school safety review as part of the school safety funding allocation process last year. Central Lee did this in conjunction with the Lee County Sheriff's Office," he said.
"Additionally, we have prioritized school safety infrastructure improvements over the past several years and have had a School Resource Officer on site for the past six years. "
Crozier said he agreed with funding SROs for districts across the state because Central Lee has been paying for the officer out of general funds.
"I am not in favor of creating another burden on educators by allowing them to be armed on school grounds," he said.
"Schools will be more favorable to these requirements if a funding appropriation is part of the bill. Without the appropriation, this is another unfunded mandate."
Fort Madison Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater said the district's threat assessment team includes a School Resource Officer and completing a comprehensive review of the district's safety plan would be a natural step.
The district already has radios with the capability  to access the SICS system that were purchased with a safety grant in 2023.
She said any additional recommended school safety standards would be implemented in Fort Madison.
Fort Madison, with an enrollment of just over 2,000 already has a full-time SRO in place.
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