Haslam, state officials hold school safety summit - WSMV Channel 4

Haslam, state officials hold school safety summit

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In the weeks since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, several school districts have announced plans to step up security on campus.

School systems from across Tennessee had a chance Tuesday to share those ideas with Gov. Bill Haslam, and he said more money will make a difference.

In a room packed with school leaders and law enforcement personnel, everyone had one goal: take home some ideas how to make their classrooms and schools safer.

"We have a charge from our mayor to bring back some ideas, and the charge was not to focus on budget but to focus on safety issues and let's see what we can do about those concerns that are viable and real in our community," said Dan Lawson, with Tullahoma City Schools.

Nearly every school district in the state was represented as they shared best practices and reviewed security measures.

"I would say most districts feel pretty good about their plans, and we're trying to move them from feeling pretty good to feeling really good about the plans," said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

Haslam has dedicated an extra $34 million for school capital projects, which school districts can choose to use for security upgrades.

But many local communities have already taken action.

In Williamson County, the county commission voted to put school resource officers in each of its elementary schools.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has allocated more than $5 million to go to school security upgrades in Metro Nashville Public Schools, which district leaders said will allow them to get the upgrades completed district-wide within two years.

"Without the allocation of those funds being prioritized for right now, specifically, for security upgrades - while we already planned to do several of the things we're expediting now - it would have taken us eight to 10 years to do that strategically across the district," said Tony Majors, with Metro Schools.

One thing that is also getting a lot of talk at the Tennessee capitol is the idea of arming teachers. However, that is an issue that makes the governor uneasy, and he said law enforcement officials he has spoken with aren't fans either.

"I think they have to have a voice and say what's practical and what will make a safe environment," Haslam said.

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