Lawmakers to hear school security bill Tuesday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lawmakers will hear a bill Tuesday designed to protect Indiana schools if there ever were an emergency or active shooter situation.

Senate Bill 147 would help schools fund emergency response systems, and require the Department of Homeland Security to develop minimum standards and approve best practices for school safety. The idea is to make schools as safe as possible during active-shooter situations.

Tuesday morning, the Homeland Security & Transportation committee will discuss the bill.

Southwestern High School in Shelby County already has an emergency response system in place. 24-Hour News 8 has reported how the school is known as the safest school in America. Supporters hope to use that school as a model for others across the state.

At Southwestern High School, teachers have key fobs that put the entire school on alert and instantly contact the sheriff’s department. The safety system allows the county dispatch center to virtually see inside the school, and even communicate with a suspect remotely during an emergency. There are also doors designed to stop intruders. The district said it cost about $400,000.

The bill would establish a law enforcement committee to approve schools’ emergency systems. It would also allow schools to use money from the school capital projects fund to pay for the system.

It also requires each school corporation that wants to purchase, install and implement a system to establish a school corporation emergency response system fund. The bill would allow the school to collect a student safety fee, not to exceed $20 per year, for each student of a school. It would also allow the school to collect a $10 public safety fee. Those fees would end in five years or when the school has enough money to buy the system.

If the bill passes, it would go into effect on July 1, 2017. A similar bill did not make it through the legislature last year.

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