Gov. Ritter and two bipartisan legislative sponsors today announced plans to create aColoradoSchoolSafetyResourceCenter, which will assist schools in preventing, responding to and recovering from emergencies.
"Coloradois home to more than 1,600 public schools, plus dozens of colleges and universities," Gov. Ritter said. "From kindergarten classrooms to college campuses, our students and teachers deserve safe, protected and healthy learning environments. By establishing thisSchoolSafetyResourceCenter, we can bring together experts from multiple disciplines and provide statewide expertise to help prevent school violence and better respond to emergencies of all kinds. We wantColoradoto be a leader in preventing violence, not enduring it."
Authorizing legislation will be sponsored by Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument.Coloradowould join about 20 other states that have adopted some form of a statewide school safety center.
TheColoradoSchoolSafetyResourceCenterwould operate within the Department of Public Safety with leadership and guidance from educators, law enforcement, mental health professionals and researchers. The center would serve as a statewide resource to help schools and communities blend and integrate expertise from education, law enforcement, mental health and social service professionals.
Initially, theSchoolSafetyResourceCenterwould identify several pilot sites to create and implement individually tailored prevention, response and recovery plans. Safety plans would include information-sharing and response agreements among local law-enforcement agencies, schools and social-service providers.
"Senate Bill 1 strives to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren by gathering real world solutions and best practices from safe schools around the country," Sen. Morse said. "Our children are among our most precious resources; there can be no exception to their safety."
"This is crucial for our children and their education," Rep. Stephens said. "SB 1 is going to move us in the right direction and get us working together to ensure we are providing the best safety practices possible and addressing these issues in a comprehensive fashion."
TheSchoolSafetyResourceCentermodel was developed after a year of planning sponsored by the Colorado Trust. A day-long workshop sponsored by Gov. Ritter and attended by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt following the Virginia Tech tragedy in April 2007 also provided valuable input into theSchoolSafetyResourceCenterconcept.