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House Education Leader: Bills to Come Requiring Locked School Doors, Other Immediate Safety Fixes

Lawmakers and educators who attended Kentucky’s special House Subcommittee on School Safety this week say they are pleased with results of the first meeting and the chairman says he plans to hold another meeting next week.The temporary subcommittee was created by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, but a bill filed by subcommittee chair Rep. Richard Henderson, D-74, would make it permanent. The subcommittee was created in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month.This week, the panel heard from educators, law enforcement officials and Jon Akers with the Kentucky Center for School Safety.“I think they’re very interested in tweaking the policies to be more effective,” Akers says.The panel will listen to short and long-term school safety options that could be implemented when more funding becomes available, Akers says.Henderson says he plans to file three main pieces of legislation to improve school safety, including the bill he’s already introduced to make the subcommittee permanent. He also plans to craft legislation that would require schools to follow certain inexpensive mandates, such as keeping all doors locked, and other actions they can take now, he says.“I think that it's going to take a series of bills and a series of laws to get our school system where it needs to be,” he says.A strong Second Amendment supporter, Henderson says he believes in increasing School Resource Officers—law enforcement officers trained to be in schools. There are over 200 SROs in schools across the commonwealth and officials with the Center for School Safety say more district officials are considering placing them in their schools soon.Henderson says eventually, when the state has the means, he’ll request more funding for the Center for School Safety, which saw large cuts to its budget in 2009, according to a report from the Courier-Journal in December.Henderson says he plans to call a second meeting next Friday.