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[ezcol_1half] JAMES ARCIERO – Westford Democrat
School safety has become a high priority given the recent increased attacks on schools and other public places. I have filed legislation which would create a Special Commission on Enhanced School Safety to bring leaders from education, public safety and government together to make recommendations on school safety. This commission would review securing school entrances, enhanced telecommunications between school administration and public safety agencies, video monitoring of classrooms, bullet-proof windows, temporary door locking safety devices, and the use of the ALICE (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate) program.
I have also advocated for the ability of schools to use retired police officers to serve as School Resource Officers, given their level of training and experience. This past week, the House Ways and Means Committee, of which I am a member, voted to release a bill which contained funding of $7.5 million for public safety infrastructure improvements and funding of $7.5 for mental and behavioral health services for students.
I commend the Westford School Safety Task Force on their efforts on this important education and public safety issue, and will look forward to working with them and our next congressperson on accessing state and federal funding for these initiatives in the future.[ezcol_1half_end]
[ezcol_1half] KATHY LYNCH – Westford Republican
As a district citizen and parent of two school-age children, I am very concerned about the safety of our children in the public schools. We all want our children to be safe.
Many of our municipality issues can be solved by returning more of the tax dollars we send to Beacon Hill back to us in local aid, to be spent on issues such as school safety. I will always vote to support local aid to cities and towns, and to reduce our taxes so we keep more money at the local level. I applaud Westford for putting together the Town and Safety Task Force in their efforts to improve safety in an expedient manner.
I would work collaboratively with appropriate state agencies such as The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and, in particular, the Massachusetts State Police to support local communities in their efforts to secure schools. I would also work to increase grant programs through the Massachusetts School Building Authority to support innovative security improvements.
Finally, I would work to create public-private partnerships to engage the local business community to help develop solutions to school safety issues, so the burden is not 100 percent on the taxpayer.[ezcol_1half_end]