Reed Hosts School Safety, Mental Health Roundtable
Rep. Tom Reed met with area superintendents, principals, teachers and parents Friday for a roundtable discussion on school safety initiatives. The group met at Brocton Central School in Chautauqua County to review federal proposals aimed at improving school safety and to offer input about what can be done at the federal level to protect students and teachers in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region.
“Today’s goal was to get a comprehensive group together for a free-flowing conversation on a common objective among us: better care for our children,” Reed said. “We left the meeting with a better understanding of what is working in the school safety arena and what local schools are looking for help with. Importantly, we formed relationships with key members of the community directly involved in caring for our children and keeping our schools safe.”
Group members stressed to Reed the need for school resource officers to have a presence on school campuses. Participants said they would like to see increased grant support for programs to train school personnel to identify mental health warning signs, establish on-site mental health services for students and more support for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
Reed noted that the recent House-passed budget agreement includes a new school safety initiative with $75 million devoted toward school safety and looking into the causes of school violence. The funding will upgrade safety technology in schools, train school personnel in case of emergency and research the roots of school violence including the mental health of students. Reed was particularly interested in districts incorporating school resource officers into their safety measures.
Reed says he relies on the input from professionals on the ground who work with children every day. “I want to be a voice in Washington for fair treatment here in our region and work toward long-term solutions we can put in place. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach won’t solve this societal problem. It will require a community-wide effort of information and resource sharing. We’re working to create that environment here today."
Superintendents, principals, teachers and parents from Brocton Central Schools, Chautauqua Lake Central School District, Jamestown School District, Westfield Academy and Central School and BOCES offered input. Local school resource officers, mental health professionals, law enforcement and local elected officials were also in attendance.