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Proponents of school safety bill urge rural counties to install alarm system

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By Nino Paoli

Published on 7/25/23

LA GRANDE — The Oregon House passed a record $10.2 billion budget for K-12 schools at the end of June, which includes $2.5 million allocated to the installment of silent panic alarm systems.

Proponents of the system say the silent panic alarm system technology can be used for medical and other emergencies, and urge rural communities to take advantage of state funding once the application process begins. Local law enforcement personnel are unsure if SPAT would make a difference to their response times.

“I never thought that my daughter, Alyssa, who was only 14, would be murdered in her English classroom here in Parkland, Florida,” Lori Alhadeff, the president of Make Our Schools Safe, said.

Alyssa was a victim of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which left 17 people dead and 17 others injured. Alhadeff looks to add Oregon as the sixth state to adopt Alyssa’s Law, which mandates that public schools install a SPAT system that is directly linked to law enforcement and aims to cut down emergency response times.

“We said that we lived in the ‘Parkland bubble,’” Alhadeff said of the Miami suburb. “Unfortunately, these shootings can happen anywhere, and it’s vitally important that schools are prepared for putting in as many school safety measures and layering those school safety measures in their school to protect their students.”

Rep. Emerson Levy, D-Bend, introduced Alyssa’s Law to Oregon through House Bill 3101, which waits in limbo now that the 2023 regular session ended. However, funding to make the law possible has been acquired through the education budget.

“The $2.5 million is there, and as soon as the Department of Education does the rule making, that money will be available to schools,” she said. “It’s $2,000 per school for them to use the SPAT technology.”

Levy said the $2,000 is enough for a school to install a “mobile baseline model” of the alarm system. If schools want to build upon the mobile system or install a hardwire system instead, they would need to pull additional money from their budgets as the $2,000 would not cover all of those costs.

 

“We’re giving them the baseline to have what they need to respond to emergencies better,” she said.

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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