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Bipartisanship On School Safety

January 10, 2019
Bipartisanship On School Safety

Citizens throughout the country watched in horror in 2018 as a gunman claimed the lives of 17 students in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. People were heartbroken to see yet another school shooting. In the midst of this tragedy, Pennsylvania’s Senate Majority Policy Committee set out to find solutions to provide a safer environment for our students. We held 10 public roundtable discussions across the state. Hearings centered on two goals: reviewing recently enacted laws and soliciting input and feedback for proposals to make our schools safer in Pennsylvania. Each event we held was broken into three main parts: discussion of recently passed laws, discussion of pending proposals before the Legislature and new ideas for the General Assembly to consider. Participants varied for each roundtable discussion and were based on the needs and issues of the host community. Events featured officials from the state, local and school levels, safety experts, law professionals and students. The results of these discussions were compiled into a 16-page report, which features key findings and points of discussion from the statewide hearings. Two main recommendations grew out of these hearings: a focus on mental health and the ability to harden targets. In the end, there was a complete understanding of the importance and the need for school resource officers. School administrators, students and legislators agreed that such officers were the best deterrent against school violence and an important investment schools can make in order to address safety. These hearings came during the most significant, bipartisan investment in school safety in state history. Earlier in 2018, the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf agreed to invest a record $60 million in funds in order to provide school safety initiatives for the 2018-2019 state budget. We have an obligation to protect our children and our educators and staff in school. This report is the result of an effort where state officials, safety experts, concerned citizens and school officials could come together and talk about an issue that is never easy to address. These kinds of tragedies must be prevented at all costs. I look forward to continuing this work in the next legislative session to continue finding solutions to ensure our students’ safety. Read the report: http://www.senatorargall.com

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