MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Republican leadership in the Alabama Legislature has offered proposals to try to make public schools safer.
The proposals revealed at a State House news conference Tuesday include giving schools permission and more money to hire trained resource officers to provide security.
A proposal by Republican Rep. Allen Treadaway of Morris would issue up to $50 million in bonds for schools to buy necessary equipment and make renovations so they can secure all entrances.
Republican Rep. Alan Baker of Brewton's proposal would replace existing "fire drills" with "emergency drills" that would take into account other situations besides just fires. The GOP proposal calls for holding at least once per semester a "code red" drill to prepare schools for a threat of violence that would cause a lockdown.
Concerning the Republican's school safety recommendations, the executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, Sally Howell, said, "It looks like a reasoned, measured approach to the situation."
The proposal includes another bill by Baker to create a new crime for trespassing on school buses. That bill was inspired something that happened in Dale County where a man entered a school bus, killed the driver and held one student hostage.
Another proposal would require schools to offer all employees the opportunity to take an active shooter preparation course to make sure teachers and other workers know what to do in the event of a shooting.
The Republicans also proposed increasing funding for Virtual Alabama, a program that lets emergency responders see maps of schools, hospitals and other public locations when responding to an emergency.
House Minority Leader Democratic Rep. Craig Ford said "there are some good ideas" in the Republican proposals. But he said he was disappointed the GOP proposals don't include how to fund hiring additional resource officers for schools.
He said he would also like to see more information on how to fund programs to help mentally disturbed students.