Let’s continue our proactive approach to school safety

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Students in North Carolina, our children, deserve nothing less than complete confidence in their safety as they further their education in the classroom. Following last year’s devastating Parkland shooting, House Speaker Tim Moore commissioned the bipartisan House Select Committee on School Safety, appointing Rep. John A. Torbett and I as co-chairmen.

Last year, the committee traveled around North Carolina holding forums for local officials following a series of working group meetings in Raleigh. The subsequent recommendations put forth last session have resulted in four bills, delivering greater security in our schools and the funding necessary to keep our children safe.

Although I am pleased with the progress in the legislature to seriously consider the recommendations that the committee introduced in its report last session, there is more work to be done. In accord, Speaker Moore recommissioned the House Select Committee on School Safety to maintain a proactive approach to improving the security of schools and ensuring safety for millions of young North Carolinians.

The committee will continue its work advancing issues related to safety and further explore the mental health component of such issues, broadening the scope of discussion to include institutions of higher education.

We cannot solve this alone. Our committee will continue to consult and collect input from experts in the fields of education, law enforcement, mental health, crisis management, and other sectors to study best practices. We will secure our educational communities. This cooperative effort will help us to outline specific processes and procedures that have proven useful in our schools already.

Presently, there is a trove of federal resources gone untapped. These federal funds can be used to pay for many of the initiatives already taking place in our schools and communities. We want to ease the burden on the North Carolina taxpayer. For this reason, we will focus on maximizing our state resources to leverage federal funds, supporting new and existing services provided to our children.

Additionally, we will identify initiatives and solutions to bring greater safety in our higher education institutions. The School Safety Committee will continue to study issues related to current safety standards and procedures, mental health, and school mental health personnel in elementary and secondary schools. Continued success in this pursuit requires a renewed focus on our higher education institutions.

We are thankful for the opportunity to offer solutions to make North Carolina the model of school safety to the rest of the country. We will continue moving forward with proactive legislative actions that make a real impact to secure our schools and keep our children safe, and we will not stop until North Carolina’s schools are the safest in the country.

State Rep. David Lewis (R) of Dunn represents House District 53, which includes most of Harnett County.

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