Illinois to Hold Statewide Safety Summit Next Week - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois to Hold Statewide Safety Summit Next Week

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Last month's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has spurred Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to schedule a statewide summit on school safety, aiming to take a more comprehensive approach to school safety policy.

A number of state agencies and different groups from across Illinois have been asked to come to the table for this four-hour meeting next week.

The governor says it is all about bringing together subject matter experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health, and law enforcement to address the efforts needed to safeguard our schools.

Local school and law enforcement officials say that's a good start, at least.

"I think the state and the agencies that they're gathering and talking about it, I think it's a good lead," Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd said. "With that being said, I do believe school violence is a local issue."

Sheriff Boyd said it is something at really needs to be addressed on the local level.

He pointed out that it has been, to some extent, already.

Even before the sandy hook shootings, there were plans for improved training to deal with that kind of situation, he explained.

More important, he said, are the school resource officers - uniformed, often armed law enforcement - already placed in local schools. That is where the state can really help.

"I think the idea of pulling everyone together and talking about it is a great start, but I would like to see Governor Quinn come up with some funding to help alleviate the cost associated with the police departments and with the school districts," Sheriff Boyd said.

As it is, school districts across the state are facing big budget crunches - and tough budget decisions when it comes to maintaining safety initiatives in their schools.

Some school officials worry the upcoming state safety summit could make the situation even worse.

"I don't know that we need the state getting all fired up and a bunch of legislators passing a bunch of laws that become mandates that we end up having to both comply with and pay for that may or may not really have much practical benefit," Dr. David Moyer, Moline School District Superintendent, said.

Still, Dr. Moyer said he hopes our local schools can find some benefit from the state's meeting.

"If something good comes out of it, we'll certainly use that to our advantage," he said.

But, the fact is that every district is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all "statewide school safety" answer.