SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Tim Bivins is taking the school safety discussion beyond guns and offering more immediate and practical solutions, a news release from his office said.
Bivins, R-Dixon, a former Lee County sheriff, has put together a package of legislation that would create a school security task force and create a grant program to help school districts pay for security upgrades.
Schools already might be taking steps to improve safety, but Bivins believes the Legislature also has a responsibility to act on the matter.
“A lot of schools aren’t waiting for legislation, and that’s great. But we have an obligation as a state to move the ball forward,” Bivins said in the release. “If lawmakers deadlock over a discussion of guns, what is going to prevent someone from entering another school and causing harm? We need to think about measures like these that provide an extra measure of security.”
Senate Bill 1931 creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study current school security conditions, make recommendations and draft minimum standards for schools to provide a safer learning environment for students.
The task force is to submit its report to the General Assembly and the governor by Jan. 1.
Senate Bill 1932 requires local school boards to consult with law enforcement and security experts in the planning stages of the construction of any new school buildings or any additions to or major remodeling of existing school buildings.
“For example, a wall of windows can be a stunning architectural feature, but it can also pose a serious security risk if it is in a part of the building that students move through on a regular basis,” Bivins said in the release.
Senate Bill 1933 creates the School Security Enhancement Matching Grant Program to award matching grants to school districts to help pay for physical security enhancements in school buildings.
The grant would cover 75 percent of the cost of the enhancements, while school district funds would cover the rest.
Bivins also has introduced Senate Resolution 91, which asks schools to create a School Watch Program similar to a Neighbor Watch Program.
“We are recommending that schools either partner with Neighborhood Watch and local law enforcement and follow that same model in their communities or create a standalone program,” Bivins said in the release. “It’s one more set of eyes, or many sets of eyes, watching out for our schools and our kids.”
Bivins is working to get bipartisan support for his legislation. All four pieces of legislation are awaiting assignment to the appropriate Senate committee for discussion.
Track the legislation
Go to www.ilga.gov to follow the legislation. Search by number (e.g. SB 1931) or keywords (e.g. school safety).