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Nevada’s 25-member school safety task force gets started

A 25-member committee on school safety created by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval met for the first time earlier this month with an eye toward suggesting improvements before the 2019 legislative session.

The state task force on school safety was announced in March in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Led by Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities In Schools and a former state superintendent of instruction, the team must have recommendations to Sandoval by Aug. 1 so the governor can incorporate any proposals into his final proposed budget or proposed bills.

Ultimately, the next governor will have control over whether any proposed safety measures stay in the proposed budget or move forward to the Legislature. Sandoval is leaving office before the Legislature convenes in February.

“While my time at the helm of this state is limited, the recommendations you make will not only have immediate impacts, but your work will help inform the 2019 Legislature,” Sandoval told the committee May 3.

Members also heard presentations from the Nevada Department of Education, the State Division of Emergency Management and a group of high school students that all hit on different topics of school safety, including the need for law enforcement officials in more schools; more social workers and social-emotional learning programs; and funding for facilities improvements.

Erquiaga said he would split the large group into two teams to “wordsmith and craft” recommendations. One group will focus on safety aspects, and the other will focus on the well-being of students.

“The working groups will do the heavy lifting,” he said. “They will grapple with these recommendations that were set before us today.”

After an initial set of recommendations is agreed upon in July, the task force will continue to meet through the end of year to look at long-term solutions to school safety issues.

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