With the latest news of another school shooting occurring in the U.S. last week, questions often turn to what options those in Iowa schools have for safety and security. This article provides some information on what schools can implement, how they can fund security enhancements, and what legislatively might be coming down the pipeline.
Can schools have armed security?
Yes, they can. While firearms are prohibited on school grounds per Iowa Code 724.4B, there are exceptions. 724.4B makes carrying any firearms, even concealed, a class D felony. The exceptions include police officers, those specifically authorized by the school (such as for training purposes) or a licensed private investigator or security agent.
These exceptions allow schools to have someone hired to provide security, or to have an agreement with the local police to have an officer assigned to the school as a School Resource Officer (SRO).
Do districts have options for outfitting their schools with security features?
Districts have a few options, besides their general fund, for upgrading or adding security features to their schools.
• Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) – PPEL consists of a board-approved portion (33 cents per $1000 of valuation) and a voter-approved portion ($1.34 per $1000 of valuation). Per Iowa code 298.3, districts can use them for the construction of buildings and to repair, remodel, improve or expand buildings, all of which could include adding security features.
• Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) – a statewide 1-cent sales tax that is sent to school districts for infrastructure purposes. The use of those funds overlaps with PPEL uses.
What’s happening legislatively?
Currently, the Senate is working on a bill, Senate File 2364, which would require school districts to have in place an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) by next year. Many districts already have such a plan in place, but not all do. The bill would require that the development of the plan include consultation with local law enforcement and local emergency management coordinators.
The piece is similar to a bill that advanced in the House last year, House File 515, which placed the same requirements on districts as SF 2364, but also required a task force to convene to develop best practices which districts could utilize when developing their EOPs.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.
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