Budget Impacts & Student Safety

Thu, Aug 29, 2013

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

By Dr. Amy Burkman

In light of national events in the last year, student safety has become of utmost importance in schools across America. Unfortunately, this enhanced focus on safety comes at a time when schools are under-staffed and under-funded in ways not seen before. How do we balance the budget of the school with the safety needs of students?
In Dallas, Texas, the school district allotted over $4 million of their budget to increasing security on school campuses. What happens to school districts that don’t have these kinds of funds? What happens to other activities within the schools that lose these funds when safety is the focus? Does safety surpass education?
Students cannot be educated when they are afraid and it becomes increasingly difficult to hire qualified educators when the school environment isn’t safe. Working and learning in constant fear is detrimental to the educational system. Does safety surpass education? Safety is an integral part of educating young people. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, nothing productive can happen until a child feels safe. Working under this theory, safety and education go hand in hand.
So what does this do for educational programming? If safety is necessary to have a positive learning environment the money that is allotted for safety is money allotted for educational programming. Dallas is spending funds on creating a safe learning environment, as is required by law, and the educational environment will benefit from that. However, other areas, such as the arts and technology, may suffer.
What can be done? There are other sources of funding available for schools outside of the regular funding system. Grants are available for arts and technology. Corporate sponsorships can provide materials and support. Building community relationships is increasingly important when dealing with issues of budget and safety.
What does this mean for schools without funding? Again, we go back to community relationships. There are many ways to make schools safe without spending millions of dollars. Working with local police, local community groups, and forming voluntary security teams are all options to creating a safe environment without an impact on school budgets. Targeting assistance from local enforcement and volunteer entities is one area which schools have traditionally isolated themselves, but now requires a closer look. In this case the old adage holds true-it takes a village to raise a child.

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