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@NCCapitol

NC lawmakers unveil school safety bill

Posted March 28, 2013

— One hundred days after 20 students and six faculty members were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a bipartisan group of North Carolina House lawmakers is backing an ambitious bill to improve school safety in this state.

House Bill 452 would spend $34 million over the next two years to improve emergency planning, crisis response and prevention in schools around the state.

"We've been very fortunate in this state of North Carolina that we haven't had such incidents, but it does not mean we are not immune to that," said Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, called the proposal "the nation's most comprehensive response not only to Newtown but to the issues of school safety that have been there for quite some time."

About $20 million would be earmarked over the next two years to add school resource officers to middle and elementary schools and to pay for additional training for officers already on staff.

Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, said it's currently up to each district to decide whether resource officers can carry weapons. The bill doesn't specifically address that issue.

Another $10 million would help local systems pay for more guidance counselors, psychologists and social workers. It also requires school counselors to spend most of their time counseling rather than on other duties like proctoring tests.

"Although we sometimes focus on incidents like Sandy Hook, the vast majority of threats to schools aren't external – they're internal," said Glazier. "The more folks we have gaining that intel in the school and being able to respond, (the better)."

School safety proposal called 'pioneering legislation'

The final $4 million would be set aside to install panic buttons or similar alarms, directly connected to local law enforcement, in every classroom in the state by July 2015. 

The legislation includes a long list of other proposals, including anonymous tip lines for each school, more comprehensive emergency plans for each school and district and a crisis kit at each school containing first aid supplies and communications devices. 

Each school would also be required to give its local law enforcement agency schematic drawings of the school, showing all exits, as well as master keys to open the front and back doors of the buildings.

"This could be pioneering legislation," said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. "They're actually providing resources here. It's putting meat on the bone, for a lack of a better word.

"It gives us something we can really grasp on to and makes sure that we are providing safety measures that will help keep our students safe in our schools," Ellis said. "I think it's good stuff."

Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, a retired police chief and co-sponsor of the bill, said it's the best proposal he's seen anywhere in the country so far.

"There will be some smiles and sighs of relief across North Carolina," Faircloth predicted. 

The proposal has the backing of teachers' groups, school administrators and law enforcement groups. it also has the support of the House leadership, where its strong bipartisan sponsorship makes it likely to win approval.

Holloway said Speaker Thom Tillis asked him to assemble a team to write the legislation. "An issue like this is when you've got to take your partisan blinders off," Holloway said.

Holloway said he hasn't yet discussed it with Gov. Pat McCrory or the Senate, but he's "confident" it will move forward.

McCrory recently created the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools to examine the best school security programs across the nation and determine which fit best in school districts statewide.

The legislation could get its first hearing in the House Education committee as soon as next week.

37 Comments

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  • rroadrunner99 Mar 29, 1:21 p.m.

    It would seem to me that an unarmed resource officer is just another target to become a dead person in a school attack. What's he going to do holler at a shooter and scare him off?

  • spiritseeker Mar 29, 12:16 p.m.

    Ask yourself this. How long would it take an overweight and probably out of shape rent-a-cop to take action if a shooter got into a school? The incident in Newtown was over and one with in a reported 5 minutes from start to finish. Spending on public safety officers in schools would be a waste and totally ineffective in a scenario involving an incursion by a serious and hyped up intruder that intends to die in the effort to kill others.

  • junkmail5 Mar 28, 11:32 p.m.

    junkmail5, I would suspect that the educational system shortchanged you in some shape or fashion and now you think having guns in schools will help to even out that injustice?
    RadioDJ

    No, I think it'd occasionally stop a school shooting though.

    Since it actually has.

    I know, I was pointing out the fact that you were using a misleading stat- Bill0

    Then I suppose I should point out you were using poorly researched ones?

    The ownership % in your link is from a gallup poll.

    If you believe it then somehow gun ownership went from 46% one year, to 40% the next, back to 46% the next.

    at another point it claims it went from 34% one year to 43% the next.

    So the source has clearly got an insanely big margin of error-

    But even worse, it appears to simply be lying

    The 2011 ownership % at your link is 36%

    The ACTUAL number from the supposed source, Gallup, is 47%

    The highest in decades by the way

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx

  • WralCensorsAreBias Mar 28, 7:40 p.m.

    Have they fired the liberals on the school board yet?

  • protestthis Mar 28, 6:29 p.m.

    "Here's an idea: a Tax on each gun purchased, of about $10,000...that goes towards such countermeasures."

    wow.. how about tax on stupid suggestions.. maybe $10.. i think they might get more revenue that way

  • flyguync Mar 28, 6:28 p.m.

    Why don't we just eliminate these stupid "gun-free" zones that the lunatics usually target and allow law-abiding gun owners to protect themselves and others. What better place to commit violence than in an area where the shooter knows they are likely the only one with a gun and can operate unopposed just like in Conn.

  • RadioDJ Mar 28, 6:25 p.m.

    junkmail5, I would suspect that the educational system shortchanged you in some shape or fashion and now you think having guns in schools will help to even out that injustice?

  • Radioactive Ted Mar 28, 4:42 p.m.

    Just wondering, but don't Republicans normally call for non-teaching jobs to be cut? It thought it was all waste as far as they are concerned.

  • bill0 Mar 28, 4:35 p.m.

    "ACTUALLY that has nothing to do with what I said.

    I said number of guns."

    I know, I was pointing out the fact that you were using a misleading stat. It's absurd to think that people owning 20 guns deters more crime than the same person with 2 guns. You've only got 2 hands! The percentage of citizens with guns is a much more accurate way to correlate the impact of gun ownership on crime. So.... the actual correlation is that in the last 40 years, crime has gone down as the percentage of people carrying guns around has gone down.

  • junkmail5 Mar 28, 4:14 p.m.

    Actually, the percentage of gun owners peaked in 1977 at 51%- bill0

    ACTUALLY that has nothing to do with what I said.

    I said number of guns.

    Which is massively higher than it was in 1977.

    There's a lot MORE guns but a lot LESS crime.

    Hence the idea more guns=more crime is provably wrong.

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