School Retrofits, More Mental Health Resources Among Recommendations from School Safety Committee

Oct 17, 2018, 6:43 PM | Updated: Oct 18, 2018, 12:59 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A School Safety Advisory Committee, made up of state leaders, education, and law enforcement presented their list of recommendations for safer schools before the Education Interim Committee Wednesday. While no action was taken, the goal was to get legislators on-board, and asking questions ahead of the legislative session come February.

“It was really important to get agreement from the various constituencies in the state,” Republican Rep. Ray Ward, of Bountiful, said. “I think the process has moved along now to the point where largely those organizations are starting to speak with the same voice.”

Rep. Ray Ward

Advisory Committee members outlined areas they believe need improvement: mental health, public safety, technology, and crisis response. Among the recommended changes was a proposal to increase the number of on-site mental health resources at schools, in hopes of lowering the state’s rising suicide rate. The measure could cost an estimated $30 million.

Another recommendation focuses on retrofitting school buildings statewide so that they’re better prepared in case of a school shooting, or major emergency. While the changes would vary from school to school, the cost is estimated at about $164 million.

“Part of the intention is to say, we’re not saying this is the exact program or this is the exact retrofit that you have to do,” Ward explained. “But to kind of put aside some money for that, matched with efforts that we know local school districts are already making.”

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School Retrofits, More Mental Health Resources Among Recommendations from School Safety Committee