Nevada school safety will be costly, superintendent says | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada school safety will be costly, superintendent says

Cy Ryan
Special to the Nevada Appeal

Improving the safety in Nevada schools is going to cost the state big bucks.

A task force is getting ready to submit its recommendations to Gov. Brian Sandoval, including doubling the amount allocated for social workers in schools, says Dave Jensen, superintendent of the Humboldt County School District. That would mean an extra $20 million a year.

The task force is also looking at setting up a $48 million fund for infrastructure changes such as single entries, doors locked from the inside and fencing.

Jensen said each school district would get a grant that would range from $150,000 to $1 million based on size. The remaining funds would be allocated on student numbers.

Each district would decide where changes needed to be made to provide better protection for pupils.

He said increasing the number of security police in each school will be costly, estimating it would cost $125,000 a year per officer at each of the more than 400 schools in the state. That cost includes salary, retirement premiums, health insurance and other miscellaneous costs.

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Jensen said being realistic, he understands the state doesn't have the money for a police officer in every school.

In his Humboldt County, there are 11 schools and one officer now. One of the schools is 100 miles from Winnemucca, the headquarters of the district. He says he would hope for an additional officer initially. And the increases would come over several years.

Jensen made his comments after a meeting of the state Board of Education on Thursday.

State School Superintendent Steve Canavero told the board there will be a proposal for more emergency drills for students and training for teachers and post trauma treatment after an incident. The detailed plan will be presented to the board in August.

In addition to school safety programs, teachers and parents in Clark County called for more money to reduce the size of classrooms. There was testimony there were as many as 36 children in one classroom in Southern Nevada.

A study this year by the firm of Augerblick, Palcaitt and Associates recommended class sizes be 15-1 in kindergarten through grades 3 and 25-1 in grades 4-12.

Canavero also told the board a study on how much the school system needs and its distribution should be ready next month. It will probably be a plan for the state to follow in the coming years.