Schiavoni introduces bill to provide noncompetitive grants to school districts to increase or improve school safety measures


Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, introduced a bill to provide noncompetitive grants to school districts to increase or improve school safety measures.

“My office has been receiving heartbreaking emails and calls from kids who want us to do something to help them feel safe in school. We need to protect our children while we figure out the best way to end gun violence,” Schiavoni said.

This legislation provides flexibility within the school districts to use this funding as they see fit to address their individual safety needs, he said.

“The grant amounts are based on the student population,” Schiavoni said. “They are noncompetitive, so every school that needs additional resources will be able to get them through this fund, not just the schools with the best grant writers.”

In Niles, meanwhile, students at Niles McKinley High School will no longer be able to bring book bags to school. Only small purses and lunch boxes will be permitted at the high school.

The Niles district made the decision to ban book bags at the high school in an effort to make every student feel safe, according to a news release.

Not only does the Niles City School District employ a full-time school resource officer, it works very closely with local law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the Niles district relied on its partnership with the police department and removed a student from class after the student was overheard talking about school shootings. The Niles Police Department removed the student from school and launched an investigation into the matter.

While police determined there was never a threat to the district or its students, the student will be disciplined, the news release stated. “On Wednesday, the district’s school resource officer and high-school principal spoke to all students at the high school about the repercussions of making threats and joking about threats.”

In Poland, a call went out to parents Wednesday announcing the schools will have safety drills Friday, and police will have an increased presence at the schools going forward.

Superintendent David Janofa said the district is required to have active-shooter drills, and, after discussions with administrators and Parent-Teacher Organization members, decided to move one up to Friday due to recent events.

“We just thought right now is as good a time as any, especially with what’s going on. We want to make sure everyone is on the same page,” he said.

“Especially the things that happened in Stark County [where a seventh-grader shot himself Tuesday], we’re all concerned. We’re trying to take additional steps. We just want to be abundantly cautious.”

Janofa said he encourages parents to talk to their children about these drills.

“I’d be asking them, ‘Do you know what you’re supposed to do under this circumstance? A fire drill?’ Start with the easiest and work your way down,” he said.

He said parents should ask their kids if they know where to go and what to do if there is a shooting.

“Unfortunately, with the times we’re in now, there’s certainly a sense of urgency with those conversations,” he said.

In Hubbard, police are investigating a social media post of a student in the Hubbard School District holding a gun that was posted in May 2017.

Superintendent Raymond Soloman said the post, which school officials were made aware of Tuesday night, didn’t involve any threats or mention of the Hubbard district, but they still take any reports of potential threats seriously.

“It’s a tense time. That’s why we contacted our local police department,” he said.

Soloman added there is no threat to any students, staff or parents in the school district. Schools were open Wednesday.

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