DENVER (CBS4)– A new audit finds Colorado spent nearly $75 million over the last couple years on a dozen different school safety programs but there is no coordination among them. It’s one of the issues a special legislative committee on school safety plans to address next session.
The committee agreed to consider 12 proposals after hearing from dozens of Coloradans over three days, including a dad whose daughter was killed in a school shooting. John-Michael Keyes has made it his mission to make schools safer since his daughter Emily was taken hostage and killed by a gunman at Platte Canyon High School in September 2006.
Emily texted her parents “I love you guys” just before the shooting. John-Michael Keyes started the “I Love U Guys” Foundation and developed a Standard Response Protocol to school threats.
“We took these actions lockout, lockdown, evacuate and shelter… each action is followed by a directive and every action has specific instructions,” Keyes told the committee, which is considering a resolution recommending all schools adopt the protocol.
Some 80% of Colorado schools and thousands more worldwide have done so already.
Lawmakers are also considering bills aimed at eliminating duplication in school safety programs and improving communication among state agencies.
“We’ve got Public Health and the Department of Education perhaps doing the same thing, well that’s not efficient, and we’ve got gaps,” said Rep. Paul Lundeen, who is taking the lead on the bills along with Committee Chair Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet. “We have to be able to account for the money and we need to know that the money we’re spending is saving lives. Period. That’s what school safety means.”
The committee will have legislation drafted that addresses the misuse of the Safe2Tell hotline, mental health sick days for kids, and mental health first aid for teachers.
Keyes is optimistic, “We can surely mitigate (school shootings). If we can’t stop them, maybe we can make them smaller.”
Of the dozen legislative proposals to come out of the committee, only five will be introduced next legislative session. The committee will narrow the list next month. There are an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the committee and they must agree unanimously to move a bill forward which is why, in part, gun control didn’t make it into any of the bills.