FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill to arm school resource officers advanced out of a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 8 follows up on last year’s Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which required schools to have resource officers but did not require them to be armed.
State Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, sponsors the bill and said the ultimate goal is safety.
“I think government has the responsibility of public safety and I think it is only common sense that we take this approach,” Wise said.
There has been some opposition to arming officers inside schools, especially within the state’s largest school district, Jefferson County Public Schools.
State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said he’s worried about taking away local control.
“I think enabling them to do this is absolutely appropriate. I think mandating this gives me some concern,” Neal said. “I think also that it’s important to make sure that we allow the local districts who are closer to their own action and the workings of their schools to have direct input as to how they would manage that.”
Another component of the bill requires schools to have at least one counselor for every 250 students in the district.
Fayette County Public Schools social worker Lori Vogel said that will help students reach their full potential in the classroom.
“Schools must ensure every student has access to a rigorous curriculum and a team of highly-qualified professionals who work collaboratively as an educational team,” Vogel said. “Essential components to the educational team are school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers. We believe the presence of each of these personnel and improved access to students are essential to ensuring school and student success.”
Wise said he’s not sure how much the bill will cost to implement, but he said it will need to be a priority in this year’s budget, as well as budgets for years to come.
The Senate Education Committee approved the bill unanimously and now it moves to the Senate floor for consideration.