A school safety bill is headed to the governor's desk -- allowing school districts an additional tool to make improvements to school security in the future.
The bill would allow districts to implement a mill levy to fund school improvements and student safety and security. Schools could use the money to pay for any upgrade that falls under the umbrella of school safety, including active shooter training and mental health programs.
Senate Bill 92 applies to every school district in the state of Montana. One school district in Laurel is looking to improve their school safety and security. Linda Filpula is the superintendent of Laurel Public Schools and talks about the bill's biggest benefit.
"It just gives districts the flexibility to take care of security issues immediately rather than having to go out to voters for a mill levy or for a bond," Filpula said. "I think that's the greatest benefit. Flexibility."
Filpula walked through Laurel Middle School, one of the schools up-to-date on safety and security. She said the school has about 700 students with a maximum capacity of 600, something to consider when thinking about priorities. The superintendent of Laurel Middle School actually has more security than Laurel High School. Filpula said laurel high school is the biggest concern for safety.
"Number one is right behind me here," Filpula said. "The entrance at the high school. It is mostly glass. We would like to change that. The doors are unlocked during the day, we do not have a buzz in system. We do have that at all the other buildings. We need to get that in place at our high school with a camera system at the door to see who is coming in and that we monitor that access."
The superintendent explained she does not believe they will need to implement a mill levy anytime soon, for there is a building reserve levy that helps with Laurel Public Schools' safety and security, but glad there is a plan b.
"How do you argue with student safety?" Filpula said. "Everybody wants their kids, their schools, and their communities to be safe."
The superintendent said Laurel Public Schools have done the "run, hide, and fight" training. She said they are also looking into a product called Reflex Protect, a violent response training technique for use at home, in the workplace, or at schools. That may be implemented in the fall.