HARRISBURG – Seven “overarching themes” to strengthen school security will be addressed in an upcoming report from the Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force, according to an announcement by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Tuesday.
The seven themes the task force is focusing on following six regional roundtables at schools throughout the Commonwealth from April through June that included students, parents, school officials, school nurses, other healthcare professionals, law enforcement, education organizations and community members who were asked about their ideas to improve safety and security at schools are:
- Improved communication and information sharing
- Enhanced social and emotional learning
- Increased access to mental health services, including more health professionals in schools
- Building community connections
- Effectively integrating law enforcement and school resource officers
- Providing guidance on establishing priorities for schools
- Providing schools with more resources
“I commend the work of all those who participated in the task force – especially the students – for providing their incredible perspectives,” Wolf said. “It was clear in every region of the state that keeping our schools safe requires a holistic approach focused on students and our communities so that our classrooms can be focused on learning.
“While I will continue to push for progress on gun safety reform, including universal background checks and keeping guns from dangerous individuals, this work is important to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect our students and teachers.”
The announcement from Wolf and DePasquale comes following the passage of the Commonwealth’s bipartisan budget last week, which includes $60 million for School Safety Funds to strengthen security and mental health services in the schools.
“In the last few months, it’s been my privilege to travel the state meeting students who are deeply invested in each other’s safety,” DePasquale said. “This generation of students is smart, informed, and eager to positively impact the world around them. It’s become clear to me during these discussions that each school has its own unique set of challenges – but some major themes remain consistent across the state. Our regional conversations helped identify those themes; now it’s time to take what we learned and turn it into action.”
Read the full content of the initial findings here.