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Survey: Arkansas districts improving school security

October 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas school districts are working to improve safety for students and staff, according to a survey conducted by a state commission.

The Arkansas School Safety Commission recently released a survey that shows districts are upgrading physical security of buildings, emergency procedures, mental health support and communication with law enforcement agencies, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The survey questioned whether school districts made or plan to make any security changes based on the commission’s preliminary report in July. Many of the findings aligned with the report’s recommendations, such as increasing armed security officers.

The survey found that almost 15 percent of the 135 districts that responded are using commissioned school security officers on campus.

Twenty-five districts responded that they have armed administrators and 16 districts said they have armed teachers or aides. About 15 districts responded that they have armed classified staff members, such as custodians.

More than 75 percent of the districts planned changes in the physical security of their school buildings, such as video surveillance, bullet-proof glass in reception areas or classroom doors that can be locked from the inside.

Nearly 98 percent of the districts reported that they have a safety or emergency operations plan, which they coordinate with local law enforcement agencies.

The survey data will be included in the commission’s final recommendations that are due to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Nov. 30.

Hutchinson formed the commission of educators, law enforcement officials and mental health professionals in March following the Florida school shooting that killed 17.

The Arkansas Department of Education will distribute a school climate assessment system to districts in early 2019, said Doug Bradberry, the state agency’s liaison to the commission.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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