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School retrofits, more mental health resources needed, school safety committee says

By Mike Anderson, KSL TV | Updated - Oct 18th, 2018 @ 6:20am | Posted - Oct 18th, 2018 @ 6:20am

SALT LAKE CITY — A school safety advisory committee, made up of state, education and law enforcement leaders presented their list of recommendations for safer schools before the Education Interim Committee Wednesday.

While no action was taken, the goal was to get legislators on board and asking questions ahead of the legislative session come February.

“It was really important to get agreement from the various constituencies in the state,” Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said. “I think the process has moved along now to the point where largely those organizations are starting to speak with the same voice.”

Advisory Committee members outlined areas they believe needs improvement, in mental health, public safety, technology, and crisis response. Among the recommended changes was a proposal to increase the number of on-site mental health resources at schools, in hopes of lowering the state’s rising suicide rate. The measure could cost an estimated $30 million.

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Another recommendation focuses on retrofitting school buildings statewide so that they’re better prepared in case of a school shooting or major emergency. While the changes would vary from school to school, the cost is estimated at around $164 million.

“Part of the intention is to say we’re not saying this is the exact program or this is the exact retrofit that you have to do,” Ward explained. “But to kind of put aside some money for that, matched with efforts that we know local school districts are already making.”

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