Making schools safer

While everyone agrees that school districts should to do more to broaden and strengthen school safety, most safety and security improvements carry a large price tag. While Jeffco Schools has leveraged existing budget dollars to strengthen safety and security in our district, additional funding from a mill levy override and bond would allow the district to do so much more.

The proposed Jeffco Schools mill levy override, 5A, would allocate 20 percent to school safety and security. That amount includes adding additional mental health and counseling resources for students. It could also support providing additional school security and campus supervisors or other personnel who are trained to identify and support struggling students.

The bond, 5B, would also fund additional safety and security improvements like interior door locks. Most Jeffco classrooms currently have doors that must be locked with a key from outside the classroom. The new interior locks can be locked from the inside without a key.

As of March 2018, Jeffco had changed out 1,300 traditional classroom locks for interior locks at a cost of $800,000. However, Jeffco has 4,800 classrooms, and it will cost an additional $4 million to change the rest of the locks. Money from 5B could put that process on the fast track.

Other building-level safety improvements could also be paid for through bond funds, such as window safety film to provide an additional layer of protection for entryways. The film helps prevent someone from gaining access to a school simply by shooting through the window. It also has a cost: $5 per square foot — and Jeffco has 155 schools. Bond funding would provide dollars to make these kinds of safety improvements possible.

School safety has been a hot topic in Jeffco in this year. In March, the district hosted a Safety Forum to highlight the resources and partnerships that Jeffco Schools uses as part of their current safety program. Superintendent Jason Glass has also written multiple blog posts about the safety issues confronting schools today.

This summer, approximately 50 parents, teachers, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and community members were selected to serve on the School Safety Task Force. The task force worked through the summer to identify, discuss, and recommend improvements to the district’s existing work.

Four subcommittees worked on recommendations in specific areas: climate and culture, threat assessment and management, target hardening/physical security, and tactics and response. The task force members will present those recommendations to the Jeffco School Board during their Oct. 4 meeting.

Task force members anticipate that some of their recommendations will be prioritized for additional funding. Voting YES on the mill levy override and bond this November will make it easier for the district to implement more of the task force’s recommendations and improve school safety for our Jeffco students and staff.