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Arkansas School Safety Task Force announces recommendations

With just weeks until classes start, one of the top concerns is safety— new safety recommendations have been announced to help keep students in Arkansas safe.

ARKANSAS, USA — Governor Hutchinson commissioned a task force on school safety, chaired by Dr. Cheryl May, following the tragic shooting in Uvalde.

"We have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time," May said on Tuesday.

These new recommendations aim to build upon ones the group first created in 2018. 

Now that weeks of research have brought this proposal to the governor's desk, he would like to start acting on them.

"...The report makes the need clear for a $50 million school safety grant program that I will be putting on the agenda of the special session that is set for next week," Hutchinson said.

The committee hopes that schools will adopt recommendations like expanding mental health training to every staff member that works with students, forming behavioral threat assessment teams in every district, and making sure there is an armed presence on every campus.

"We've already passed a law in Arkansas that allows school personnel with training to be an armed presence in the school," Hutchinson said.

RELATED: Arkansas School Safety Commission talks about draft recommendations

There have been mixed reactions from students and parents regarding the new recommendations, but most seem to agree on one thing— as North Little Rock mom Lisa Burr said, something needed to be done.

Secretary of Education Johnny Key echoed that safety is the bottom line on Tuesday, where he explained, "...making sure we are vigilant in an ongoing way to make sure Arkansas schools are as safe as they possibly can be for our students."

State leaders will now be pushing for action to start even before the report is finalized this October.

"I expect every principal and superintendent to be reading this interim report assessing what they can do and what they need more resources on but I expect that to move quickly for this fall," Hutchinson said.

The committee said that this is all in the name of safety and what they think will ultimately make schools more secure. 

Districts do not have to adopt every recommended policy, but the committee is working with Governor Hutchinson to make some suggestions, like locking doors during school hours to comply with Arkansas law.

Governor Hutchinson hopes that the $50 million grant fund for these recommendations will be approved during the special session next week.

If it is approved, Governor Hutchinson said that some safety changes can start immediately.

   

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