By Tom Blankenship
I have taken the title of this article from a slogan of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, a sister association to KSBA, whose efforts are devoted to providing safe schools across the Commonwealth.
The Center was established in 1998; a 12-member board of directors, appointed by the governor, guides its work. I would like to briefly discuss the beneficial efforts of this organization.
The scope of its work requires a statewide collaboration of resources. Therefore, to date, KCSS partners with Murray State University, the University of Kentucky and KSBA. KSBA provides quality training statewide, sponsors conferences and workshops, and serves as a resource for schools and community agencies.
KSBA and KCSS have enjoyed a close partnership over the years, not only in resources and information, but personnel as well. In fact, KSBA Executive Director Bill Scott was the Center’s second executive director. Jeff Stumbo, Floyd County school board chairman and former member of the KSBA Board of Directors, currently serves on the KCSS Board of Directors. With Jeff’s long background in law enforcement, he is a natural and capable choice for this service.
The center continues to be most appreciative of legislative support that has been provided since 1999. Kentucky continues to lead the country in its commitment to providing a safe environment for students to learn and teachers to work.
KCSS Executive Director Jon Akers has stated, “As I travel the state and talk to educators, I find that the need for current school safety information is absolutely critical. By the governor and General Assembly’s commitment to keep KCSS funded, they are continuing to provide our state educators with a dependable and reliable resource that will provide assistance as school officials work to enhance not only student academic achievement today, but the learning environment for tomorrow’s students as well.”
Even so, the Center has not been immune from the economic forces that have affected schools and other state government and state-supported agencies. One of its major challenges has been the significant budget cuts over the past four years. This amounts to a 63 percent reduction when compared with the fiscal year 2002 funding level. (See chart.)
Despite the budget cuts, KCSS stays abreast of current trends in school safety and provides training and technical services to school districts in an effort to meet new and different challenges that evolve every year.
The Center actively assists schools statewide as they address a wide variety of school safety concerns. Such efforts, since its inception, include:
• Providing technical services and information in 4,056 settings in Kentucky’s school districts, involving over 229,930 stakeholders.
• Conducting 284 statewide trainings involving 14,664 participants.
• Conducting safe school assessments in 581 schools in 150 school districts.
• Enhancing the KCSS website, which now receives more than 4 million hits per year.
• Hosting various conferences that examine facets of school safety
• Working with 216 school resource officers throughout the state and helping establish the Kentucky Association of School Resource Officers.
Kentucky school leaders continue to have major concerns regarding school safety on a daily basis. School board members should be grateful for the support that KCSS offers. As Akers stresses, “School safety will always be the foundation for any successful school. It must remain everyone’s responsibility.”
It is imperative that we all consider school safety to be a high priority.
— Blankenship is vice chairman of the Lincoln County Board of Education