19 Kentucky Schools Cancel Safety Inspections Amid Budget Cuts
One of the schools is in the same district as Marshall County High School where two students were shot and killed by a 15-year-old classmate last month.
Some Kentucky schools have canceled planned safety reviews after the governor ordered budget cuts following a $200 million shortfall.
Governor Matt Bevin ordered a 6.25 percent cut to most state agencies and intends to reallocate the money to departments such as adoption and foster care, state social workers and to fight the state’s opioid crisis, according to The Courier-Journal.
One school that has canceled its safety review is Marshall County Elementary School, which is in the same school district as Marshall County High School where two students were shot and killed last month, reports WKU.
The widespread budget cuts resulted in a reduction of more than $95,700 to the Kentucky Center for School Safety, an agency that does on-site assessments of schools and recommends safety improvements. Some of the agency’s assessments include gauging how school officials enforce rules, building maintenance and the communication of emergency plans. It also addresses student mental health issues and stress, according to The Courier Journal.
The assessments must be requested by school districts and are approved on a first-come-first-serve basis. The agency typically receives more requests than it can complete but has assessed an average of 70 schools per year in the last decade.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, said delaying the reviews is a “pretty big gamble to take” and that the state should be spending more to protect students following the recent deadly shooting. Jones also recently called for an armed guard in every public school.
“I’m afraid we’re going to get through this legislative session and the (Marshall County shooting) will be relegated to history and nothing will take place to deal with situations like this in the future,” Jones said. “It’s not something you can just say, ‘We’re going to extend our condolences’ and forget about it.”
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, a nonprofit that campaigns for children’s rights, says there are other ways school districts can address safety, such as studying widely published best practices guides. Without state assessments, districts might be pushed to innovate, says Brooks.
“I don’t think the sky is falling. I think there are other ways to address this. It is not some state secret what makes schools safe.”
Nineteen schools in eleven school districts have canceled their state safety reviews for the 2017-2018 school year. By the end of the school year, 56 schools will have had reviews, but that is the least since 2011.
Here is a full list of the districts and schools that have canceled their state safety review:
- Casey County School District: Liberty Elementary
- Daviess County School District: Sorgho Elementary and Country Heights Elementary
- Grant County School District: Grant County Middle School and Grant County High School
- Laurel County School District: North Laurel Middle School and South Laurel Middle School
- Logan County School District: Auburn Elementary and Logan County High School
- Marshall County School District: Central Elementary
- Martin County School District: Warfield Elementary
- Morgan County School District: East Valley Elementary and Morgan County Middle School
- Owensboro Independent School District: Cravens Elementary and Estes Elementary
- Warren County School District: South Warren High School and South Warren Middle School
- Whitley County School District: Whitley County Middle School and Whitley County High School
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