Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Elkhart County creates school safety commission
Posted on July 16, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — A new group has been created to make schools safer places for students in Elkhart County.

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance Monday, July 15, that established a school safety commission as dictated by state code. The commission will create a new safety plan for local schools and have opportunities to apply for state grants through Indiana Safe Schools Fund, which aims to prevent violence, bullying and substance abuse in schools.

“Up until recently, only a handful of counties in Indiana had such a commission, but in the last legislative session, Indiana Senate Enrolled Act One was passed and added an increase in the funding mechanism to school safety commissions,” county administrator Tom Byers told the commissioners.

Fairfield Community Schools superintendent Steven Thalheimer is among the local school leaders who has been supportive of the county creating a safety commission. He told the county commissioners Monday that his district has $104,000 in upgrades planned, including card swipe systems, cameras and buzz-in systems, for school buildings. A state grant will help cover about half of the costs, he said.

“That’s fantastic for us as a district, but all of the superintendents in the county want to voice their appreciation for moving this along and your staff for making this happen so quickly,” Thalheimer said.

The school safety commission will include at least one school safety specialist, a circuit court judge, the sheriff, the chief officer of every law enforcement agency in Elkhart County and representatives of the county’s juvenile probation system, community organizations that work with children, the local Indiana State Police district and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Indiana. Some members may appoint designees to serve on the commission.