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Recommendations to make Arkansas schools safer released by commission

The Arkansas School Safety Commission made updates to their 2018 safety report and provided recommendations for school districts.

ARKANSAS, USA — With the start of the school year right around the corner, it's at the forefront for Arkansas lawmakers. The Arkansas School Safety Commission made some recommendations and handed them over to Governor Asa Hutchinson today.

The 24-member commission outlined several key strategies to keep Arkansas schools safe.

“There’s not one single thing that a school can do that’s gonna make that school safe, it has to be a combination of a variety of things,” said Dr. Cheryl May, the chairman of the Arkansas School Safety Commission.

That combination includes expanding youth mental health training, establishing behavioral threat assessment teams, and making sure there is a culture of compliance at schools. Dr. May says not having a layering of security measures or accountability was a downfall in recent tragic events.

“It was very clear that the Robb Elementary School had a culture of non-compliance. We can’t allow that to happen in our schools so that accountability is so important,” she said.

The commission also recommended a $50 million school safety grant that will be the topic of discussion in next week’s special session.

“The intent is that this could be used for upgrades in security access, you know, cameras, or specific recommendations that come out of the School Safety Commission report,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

Other major recommendations include requiring an armed presence to be on every school campus at all times. They also recommend changing state law to make sure all doors and windows are locked during school hours. Many of these recommendations may require legislation, so they'll be working with lawmakers for the next few months.

“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,” said Johnny Key, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education.

Hutchinson expects changes to security measures like electronic access controls to be improved in the next few months, but any new changes to the legislature will happen as early as January of next year. The final report will be released in October.

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