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New Safety Commission Sparks Disagreement On How To Better Secure Schools

Erik Neumann / KUER
President of the Utah State Superintendents Association David Styler speaks with state Senate President Wayne Niederhauser at the Capitol on Thursday.

Following the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a new school safety commission was announced on Thursday at the Utah Legislature.

The new commission includes members of the State Board of Education, teachers and gun advocates, as well as supporters from the Utah House of Representatives. The group was assembled to make policy recommendations about school safety to the Legislature.

But not all school administrators or elected officials think that new state policies are the answer. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, speaking alongside other school officials later in the day, said the state should not be driving the issue.

“The Legislature and the governor’s office should take a back seat to our school boards and our superintendents because every district, every school has a different need,” Niederhauser said.   

David Styler, the president of the Utah State Superintendents Association, and Mary Nielson, the head of the Utah School Boards Association, were not included in the new safety commission. They said schools would be better served with special one-time funding to help secure individual buildings rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. Nielson said ideas include adding bulletproof glass in schools, electronic door locks and creating single-entry buildings.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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