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AL: 25% of schools don't have police presence; state allows schools to keep "secured firearms"

Aug 4, 2018, 1 in 4 Alabama public schools don't have a security officer, survey shows One out of four K-12 public schools in Alabama don't have a school resource officer or a security officer, according to a recent survey conducted by the Alabama State Department of Education. That means approximately 375 schools, out of a statewide total of around 1,500, could choose to participate in the Alabama Sentry Program, which allows administrators to keep a firearm in a secured safe on campus for use during an active shooter incident. Only schools without an SRO are allowed to participate in the program, created by Gov. Kay Ivey in the wake of the tragic shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and staff were killed on Valentine's Day, and the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, where 10 students and staff were killed. Ivey said having an SRO in every school is preferable, but until that can happen, the Sentry Program will provide a way for administrators to keep schools safe. … State tax proceeds do not currently fund the cost to pay SROs. Local tax proceeds are most often used to pay SROs, but the way SROs are funded varies widely. In some districts, local government and police or sheriff departments provide the SROs at no cost to the district, where others share the cost with the district. At the June 14 state board of education meeting, Mackey told state board members that there is a chance that state lawmakers could fund some portion of the cost of an SRO, but those details haven't yet been worked out. He said he does not anticipate the state to fund the full cost to pay for SROs…. In April, prior to the creation of the Sentry Program, Ivey created the Securing Alabama's Facilities of Education, or SAFE, Council. That Council, composed of heads of the departments of education, mental health, community colleges, information technology and law enforcement, made 10 recommendations to improve safety in Alabama's schools. Sparkman said five of those recommendations have been fully implemented. … "We considered this a social emergency of equal magnitude of a natural disaster that we wanted to head off," Sparkman said. Those recommendations included enhancing the ability of the Alabama Fusion Center, a command post for law enforcement statewide, to follow threats to school safety, improving the timeliness of reporting serious discipline problems to the Fusion Center, ensuring schools follow through with required training and drills for students in the event of a school shooting, and creating seven regional school safety and compliance teams to support schools statewide. …

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