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Arkansas leaders using summer break to make schools more safe

Governor Hutchinson has re-convened the Arkansas School Safety Commission so that they can work to further school safety.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In the wake of recent mass shootings, specifically at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas -- thousands of Americans have asked their legislators to better ensure safety in the classroom.

In response, Governor Hutchinson made the decision to re-convene the Arkansas School Safety Commission to try and come up with those additional recommendations to further school safety.

 Dr. Cheryl May is the chair for the committee, and she has asked members to "use this moment to make sure every single child in Arkansas schools and the staff are safe."

The committee aims for a comprehensive approach to create more secure schooling, to address mental health, as well as security and communication plans, and to look over emergency drills.

When the group was first established back in 2018, they had a few months to provide 30 safety recommendations. But this time, with a bigger sense of urgency due to the recent shootings, they'll only have a few weeks.

"We're going to have to roll up our sleeves, we've got an extremely tight timeline," Dr. May said, "even though we have made progress, that there's a lot more that we can do."

There are about a total of 20 members that make up the school safety commission. 

Those include various physical and mental health professionals, police, as well as educators, and legislators. Among those legislative members is Attorney General Leslie Rutledge 

Vilonia High School Teacher John Allison is also on the committee, and he said, "It's important for all parts of the equation to be represented...and I hope that we can come up with even more things to make schools safer now."

While gun reform isn't the sole focus of this committee, members of 'Moms Demand Action' hope it isn't something that's ignored.

"I just hope that we don't get too far into too many guns in the school and that kind of thing," said Karen Sullards, an Arkansas member of Moms Demand Action.

The committee has worked diligently, and continue working hard to have new recommendations before classes start. They take a moment to remember that they have decided to do this for all those in Arkansas schools.

"We're going to do everything that we possibly can," Dr. May said.

The recommendations are due to Governor Hutchinson by August 1st. After they are submitted, he is then expected to address them in a special session later this summer. 

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