School safety at the forefront of Douglas County discussions
Information provided by the Douglas County School District
The Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education met in a work session on Tuesday, May 23 to discuss safety and security in DCSD schools. The discussion included a review of DCSD Board Policy ADD: Safe Schools, which addresses a variety of directives ranging from physical safety and security measures in buildings, to training and support for students, to prevention. The Board engaged in open dialogue with key staff members, including a middle school principal, involved in addressing safety and mental health in DCSD schools.
Following the discussion, members of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners joined the work session to discuss their plans to use $10 million in one-time funds, from excess collection of county tax revenues, to help further enhance security in public and private schools across Douglas County. The County Commissioners also announced a proposal to appropriate an additional $3 million in annual funds for security personnel to public and private schools that are able to provide an equal match.
DCSD has more than doubled its budget for security and mental health in the past five years.
As a result of the passage of a $40 million mill levy override this past November, 80 new counselors will be added to DCSD’s district-run schools. In the 2019-20 school year, counselors will be added to the elementary school level. And the middle school and high school counselor to student ratio will be reduced to 1:250, which is the ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association. A $250 million bond was also approved by voters in November. $15 million from the bond will be used to upgrade and enhance physical security systems at every DCSD school building, including charter school buildings.
DCSD also has a Safety and Security Committee made up of law enforcement partners, board members, staff, school leaders and parents, which meets on a regular basis to review current programs and discuss continuous process improvements.
“We are incredibly appreciative of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners’ desire to partner with us on the critical issue of school safety,” said David Ray, president of the Douglas County School District Board of Education. “I believe our community is comforted by the fact that we are having these important conversations with our community partners on how we can work together toward a shared goal of keeping all of our students safe.”