Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden) joined his Assembly Minority colleagues as school safety recommendations were unveiled from a report generated from a series of fact-finding events hosted by the Assembly Minority Task Force on School Safety and Security. Although not previously part of the task force, Maher supports many of the measures and has worked on school safety issues in his role as Town of Montgomery supervisor.
“The safety of our school children is on the minds of everyone. While I was town supervisor in Montgomery, I worked closely with schools to encourage them to hire school safety officers and look into other tools of security,” said Maher, who is a member of the Committee on Children and Families. “My colleagues have done a lot of listening and developing solutions from stakeholders that can be implemented now, but it will take resources. We urge the governor and legislative leaders to include funding to help schools improve safety and security.”
Maher is arguing additional funding for school safety measures, such as hiring school resource officers and security infrastructure, should be prioritized. Capital Outlay Program funds should be increased to $225,000 and Building Aid should be increased to 15 percent to help with school safety projects. For example, a local school in the district was quoted at more than $100,000 to install safety film on doors and glass to prevent their shattering if shot and would make it more difficult for someone to enter.
Other measures proposed by the task force include:
- Statewide school resource officer training and the creation of a statewide School Safety Agent program similar to one operating in New York City;
- Increase the number of mental health professionals by adjusting qualifications to obtain social work degrees and certification; create incentives to mental health professionals, school psychologists and social workers specializing in child development; and provide early exposure to these careers through youth apprenticeships;
- Allow first responders to report to County Directors of Community Services that an individual needs immediate care or hospital treatment;
- Establish continued official discussions on school safety matters by forming the New York State Division of School Safety and Security to inventory existing safety resources and expand statewide Emergency Response Plan requirements; and
- Empower students and parents by establishing anonymous tip lines, require reporting of bullying and harassment to parents or guardians and remove polling at elementary and secondary schools.
Editor’s Note: Comments from Maher on school safety can be downloaded here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cdJfcR8sbmqFDe6hj2sSZuzoNVyodEQm/view