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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
June 6, 2023

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Washington lawmakers look to increase school safety with more officers, staff


LONGVIEW — Multiple bills floating in the Washington Legislature focus on school security, and the state superintendent has outlined increasing school staff as a priority to make schools safer.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, would help fund a school resource officer at each school in the state.

Another bill being considered in the Legislature would fund automated cameras in school buses that automatically take photos of the back of the bus when there is a “detected … infraction.”

A report by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction says officials are looking for $337 million in fiscal year 2024 to provide more pay for school employees in an effort to create “stronger, safer schools.”

The department is looking to increase the number of principals and staff compared to students to create more “physical, social and emotional support,” the report states. Districts would also use increased funds to hire more “safety personnel” and coaches to train staff on “racial literacy and cultural responsiveness,” according to OSPI.

Staffing is a challenge, said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal during a recent news conference, as the number of school employees has dropped “sharply.”

“This state is innovating,” Reykdal said. “And we’re creating ways to create student success in the face of undoubtedly challenging budget times.”