Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law on Friday that calls on school districts to implement a regional school safety and security program so that schools across the state are prepared for emergencies like fires, earthquakes or active-shooter situations.
The bill, Senate Bill 6620, was sponsored by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, whose district also includes Mountlake Terrace.
The bill provides a foundation for school safety and security programs by establishing an annual school safety summit. The goal is to strengthen partnerships between educators and parents while also building emergency preparedness.
“Each of our school districts is unique and has different strengths and vulnerabilities that should be addressed collaboratively,” McAuliffe said. “This bill would empower school officials to come together with law enforcement and emergency response organizations to achieve safety goals that fit their unique needs.”
McAuliffe said that the idea for the bill grew out of her close work with Craig Apperson, former director of the Washington State School Safety Center in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
“The importance of school safety is too great not to use all the mechanisms we have in place,” Apperson said. “Since we have the School Safety Advisory Committee already in place, I saw the need to get the stakeholders back at the table so that our schools are safe for all our children. This bill gets everyone talking again and studies what needs to be done to have a fully funded school safety plan.”
SB 6620 directs the Washington State Institute of Public Policy complete an evaluation of how Washington and other states have addressed the funding of school safety and security programs. That report is due at the end of 2017.
“Keeping our kids safe while they’re at school is just as important as making sure we are providing a world-class education,” McAuliffe said.