Harrisburg – July 23, 2018 – A longtime advocate of school safety upgrades, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that he was appointed to the new School Safety and Security Committee.
The 17-member commission was created in late June with the passage of Act 44. The goal of the committee is to craft policies and provide grants to stop school and community violence.
“There is a tremendous amount of work to do to protect children in our schools and improve anti-violence efforts in our communities,” Brewster said. “This new committee has broad and sweeping power, a definitive mandate and appointees with expertise in safety and security to help bolster security and push state-of-the-art solutions.”
As a senator, Brewster has been at the forefront on school safety issues. Earlier this year, he authored a wide-ranging package of legislation to address key areas of school safety.
Brewster’s three-bill initiative included the formation of a safety committee (similar to the one contained in Act 44), a heightened focus on school building upgrades through the Department of Education’s construction process (PlanCon) and hiring of more school resource officers.
“I am hopeful the new committee will address the safety needs of school students, teachers and administrators, in addition to focusing efforts on reducing violence in the community,” Brewster said. “This effort will be ongoing and collaborative — and has the potential to craft policies and fund programs that will really make a difference in protecting our children.”
Act 44 includes a new $60 million grant program. The committee is being created through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Brewster said the new committee will have to get to work immediately. The new law specifies deadlines for adopting safety and security criteria to be used in school safety assessments. It must also approve guidelines for selecting security assessment providers by Oct. 31.
Grants from the program may be used for school and security assessments, conflict resolution, behavior supports, diversion, anti-violence programming, risk assessment, security planning, counseling, training and bullying prevention among other things. Community anti-violence programs will be funded through a $7.5 million set-aside.
The first meeting of the committee will be held on July 23. Brewster was appointed by Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).