DENVER (KDVR) — A new Office of School Safety was established on Thursday with Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.
This new state office aims at helping schools prevent, prepare for and respond to emergency situations. The office was made with bipartisan support and has some lawmakers taking a victory lap because of that.
It’s the brainchild of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee, made of two Republicans and four Democrats. One of them is Rep. Shannon Bird.
“That was a great place for this bill to start,” said Bird, a Democrat who represents Adams and Jefferson counties. “Having that bipartisan perspective really gave us the energy and the momentum to do important work.”
The committee was tasked with establishing this office from the very top of the state’s government.
“This bill idea was brought to us by the governor’s office probably in early January,” Bird said.
School safety gaps targeted
Recent gun violence at Denver’s East High School was just a coincidence with the establishment of the new state office.
“Not every school is the same,” Bird said. “Not every school’s needs are the same.”
According to Bird, the mission of this new office is focused.
“The state is not here to deliver a one-size-fits-all for all of our schools,” Bird said.
It will be someone’s job to determine safety needs tailored to individual communities around Colorado.
“Somebody will look and see where all the gaps are in our state’s capacity to keep our kids safe in schools,” Bird said.
The subject of school resource officers has varied from one city to another, but according to Bird, the new Office of School Safety will offer assistance based on a community’s needs.
“There’s funding, or if you want technical expertise on how to engage with your local governments,” Bird said.
The new office will be a combination of several existing state offices. The staff is expected to number about 20 people, and their work will begin this summer before the next school year.