(LEX 18)–A year after the Marshall County High School shooting and the Parkland, Florida school shooting, many want to know what officials are doing to make Kentucky schools safer.
Jon Akers, the Executive Director of Kentucky Center for School Safety, says that Kentuckians experienced shock and grief after the 2018 shootings.
“You know that shooting that took place in Marshall took place in 5 seconds, 600 kids. Bang bang bang bang. Bang bang bang bang. Bang bang bang bang. Run run run run run,” he said.
Between the Marshall tragedy and April 30, 2018, there were 294 threats made towards kids and or schools in Kentucky alone. Since then, the school safety work group has been busy meeting with parents, students, administrators, and others.
“We had 8 meetings around the state,” said Akers. “I was at all those meetings and what happened was very interesting; the panel just listened.”
From those conversations came Senate Bill 1. Akers said that unlike other states, Kentucky isn’t having a “knee jerk reaction.”
“Over 50 years in the state of Kentucky dealing with education and legislature stuff, this is the first real bipartisan thing I have ever witnessed. And it’s great,” he said.
A bill that passed 35 to 0 in the Senate, Akers said that the governor has already said he’ll sign should it pass in the house. Akers said it is focusing on the hardware, like metal detectors, wands, and officers, and the “heartware” like strong relationships with counselors.
At the end of the day, he said that everyone must understand kids are only in school 15% of the calendar year.
“Somebody else has got to step up to the plate. And that’s mom and dad. Or granny or grandpa. Or some responsible person has got to step up to help us. School safety is 24/7,” said Akers.
Akers also mentioned that Fayette County has become an example to districts across the country, putting their money where their mouth is, passing the school tax, implementing metal detectors, and wands, and boosting their counseling services.