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School safety bill advances in House

Posted April 9, 2013

— A wide-ranging bill to upgrade security at North Carolina public schools unanimously passed the House Education Committee on Tuesday.

House Bill 452 must still be vetted by the House Appropriations Committee before any consideration by the full House.

The proposal calls for spending $34 million over the next two years to improve emergency planning, crisis response and prevention in schools around the state.

"This bill is not the 100 percent answer, but I don't think that any bill can provide that," said Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, one of the primary sponsors.

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.

The proposal would provide a 2-1 match to local funding for school resource officers. Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, questioned why the state doesn't pick up the full expense, especially in poor school districts, but co-sponsor Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said there isn't enough money in the state budget for that.

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.

"The biggest threat to schools is internal, not external," Glazier said. "The most that we can do is have more bodies gaining intel in the schools."

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.

Other measures called for in the bill include anonymous tip lines for each school, more comprehensive emergency plans, including annual safety exercises, and providing local law enforcement with schematic drawings of and master keys to each school.

"In the case of a crisis, every second is critical," Holloway said. "We don't want law enforcement to have to ram a door down or break glass. Let's let them have a key so they have instant access."

Glazier noted that anonymous tip lines in Cumberland County schools have received more than 80 tips in the last three years that helped prevent incidents.

Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, questioned whether the safety exercises would go beyond huddling children in classrooms. Such situations usually don't have good outcomes in school shootings, he said.

Glazier said the state Department of Public Safety would work with districts on the best practices for safety exercises.

Sponsors amended the bill to add a proposal from Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union, that would allow school districts to appoint volunteer school resource officers. The volunteers would have a law enforcement background, either as retired police or deputies or former military police, and would be vetted by the local sheriff's office before going into schools, he said.

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  • superman Apr 10, 2013

    Just make sure that the people who is going to do violent things knows NOT to use the front door. Use the backdoor or shoot thru the windows on the side of the building. Set off the fire alarm and shoot students and teachers when they go outside. The answer here is there is nothing they can do except throw away money. Wait along the side of the road and take over a school bus full of students on their way to school or on their way home. So many possibilities for violence that you cant control. You remember 911-- they knew those planes were headed toward the building and did nothing.

  • superman Apr 10, 2013

    The Contractor Wake Tech has always had security and a vehicle. I think it was one of those "rent a cops".

  • baldchip Apr 9, 2013

    2thec-so Obama and his minnions carting New Town victims to DC to testify in Congress is not grandstanding?? Seriously??? Oh my!!

    Nothing the left has proposed would stop these mass murders!! Guns-armed and trained resource officers gives the kids and eachers in school a fighting chance-which is better than the liberals are offering.

    WE protect all these liberals with guns-Presidents, V-Ps, Congressmen, banks, Hollywood types(who want OUR GUNS),...
    So-the ideas of the left are to take away our guns-so they will be the only ones with guns-them and criminals?? What are they smoking???

  • gvmntcheese Apr 9, 2013

    Look Folks, when you see statements like this from a politician; "This bill is not the 100 percent answer, but I don't think that any bill can provide that," said Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, one of the primary sponsors.
    I think its safe to say that this is a waste of time. It is time to get these people we put in office to do their jobs. State sponsored baby sitters and security is not going to cut it. Real Answers and Real Solutions are what NC needs!

  • Radioactive Ted Apr 9, 2013

    I thought that Republicans wanted to reduce the number of non-teaching staff. Instead, it looks like increase the waste and decrease the teachers. Good plan to beat Alabama to the bottom.

  • The Contractor Apr 9, 2013

    wake tech recently hired their own police force with cars and everything... guess thats why we had tuition increases multiple times last few years... maybe we should charge parents a facility usage fee and recoup the costs? we get nickle and dimed at wake tech every semester.

  • Offshore Apr 9, 2013

    Also we don't want the kids to be afraid of going to school because of the extra cops on campus.
    678devilish

    Kids don't fear police unless taught to do so. This, like many issues today, needs to be addressed at home with parents who are involved in a raising their children in a postitive environment.

  • Offshore Apr 9, 2013

    WE DO NOT HAVE 34 MILLION DOLLARS for a "feel good" measure.....
    Scubagirl

    Considering the money and time spent on passing laws that don't work (federal level) this seems like a step in the right direction. If we can spend money on security in gov't offices we can certainly afford to spend it on protection for our children.

  • LovemyPirates Apr 9, 2013

    If Dems vote no on this bill, the Repubs will brand them as soft on crime or as not willing to do what it takes to keep schools safe. In actually, a school resource officer in every school is of limited help. A Resource Officer can only be at one place at a time and there are many entrances to a school. Also, the state doesn't have the money for this. This is grandstanding by the Republicans in the General Assembly.

  • 678devilish Apr 9, 2013

    I sure hope they do not turn these school into a "prison" like effect. We want the kids to be safe and in a good inviroment. Also we don't want the kids to be afraid of going to school because of the extra cops on campus.

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