BOISE -- The Idaho School Safety and Security Task Force is releasing some of its recommendations to improve school safety in Idaho.
Idaho first took a look at school safety and security in 2007. Then in January 2013, after the massive school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna formed another task force to take a renewed look at school safety.
"The reality is without resources, it's a challenge to address some of the needs we have in Idaho schools," said Matt McCarter, Director of Student Engagement and Post-secondary Readiness, State Department of Education.
McCarter says the task force recommends there be dedicated funds allocated to school districts specifically for increasing safety and security.
Luna has already heeded that recommendation. His 2014-2015 budget includes as much as $2.4 million dollars to aid in school safety, security planning and implementation.
Luna is also asking for $500,000 to begin to establish the Idaho Center for School Safety, which is another recommendation of the task force.
McCarter says the Idaho Center for School Safety would be modeled after the Texas School Safety Center and provide valuable resources for teachers, administrators and districts.
"It would be a one-stop shop for districts to go to for training, data, resources, and best practice methods," said McCarter.
The task force is also recommending school board trustees and first responders meet, at a minimum annually, to discuss threat assessment implementation and safety planning.
They also want districts to be capable of effectively communicating with first responders.
"When an emergency happens, seconds matter," said McCarter. "And if you're not talking the same language, that can be a huge risk in terms of effectively responding."
McCarter says the task force does not recommend arming teachers and school staff with guns, even though Idaho law allows districts to do so and a handful are considering it.
"The task force is adamant that that authority remains at the local level," said McCarter. "However, the task force does not recommend arming staff. However, they want districts to be empowered with that decision if they see fit."
McCarter says if districts choose to arm teachers, the task force has identified a number of critical measures districts should contemplate. For example, liability implications and psychological screening of teachers.
The task force will formally present all of its recommendations before the Idaho Legislature when it convenes in January. It will then be up to lawmakers to decide which, if any, of the recommendations to mandate or leave for the local level to decide.