Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced that he will create a task force to recommend a series of school safety initiatives for inclusion in the final state budget prepared on his watch.
“I have the benefit of building the next budget, which will be hopefully completed by the end of August,” he said Monday. “This is a priority for me that I want to see go into the budget.”
Sandoval, who is in his final year as governor, announced the move after a two-hour meeting with school superintendents to discuss school safety in the aftermath of the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school last month that left 17 dead.
He said he would sign an executive order by the end of the week creating the task force of superintendents, parents, students, behavioral health specialists and others and instruct them to craft recommendations.
The two-term Republican won’t control implementation of the budget, however. That will be up to the next governor and the Legislature, which will reconvene next year.
Discussions among those present Monday suggested the task force will look at more funding for social workers and police officers on campus, among other measures. All 17 of the state’s school districts are short of both, but the problem tends to be worst in rural areas.
When asked about arming teachers, a suggestion floated by President Donald Trump and other federal officials, Sandoval said there is a difference of opinion among superintendents in Nevada. Sandoval pointed to existing state law, which says individuals can carry firearms on campus with written permission from a school or district official.
“The consensus was most of the school districts choose not to do that,” he said.
But Sandoval and superintendents declined to say which districts are making use of the law or how many people may be armed on campuses.
Having access to mental health professionals is also an issue, with Sandoval acknowledging that not all districts currently receive funding for school social workers. Officials want to explore new ways of funding mental health professionals and measures that could include telemedicine, he said.
Last week, Nye County Schools reported that district Superintendent Dale Norton has directed all principals in the district to review all site safety plans with the site safety teams.
By March 9, all principals were instructed to meet with all site employees to discuss updates and reviews of the “site safety plan for school violence.”
Norton encouraged parents and legal guardians who have guns in their homes to make sure they are locked away and safely secured.
Students are encouraged to report seeing or hearing something about guns to an adult, including bus drivers, teachers, principals or any school employee, along with SafeVoice’s 24-hour hotline at 1-833-216-7233.
The Pahrump Valley Times staff contributed to this story.