Lyon County Schools already doing what new safety law calls for

EDDYVILLE, KY — Although funding for Kentucky’s School Safety and Resiliency Act has yet to be determined, the superintendent of Lyon County Schools says districts are already doing a lot of what the law is calling for.

Gov. Matt Bevin ceremonially signed Senate Bill 1 Wednesday morning. Among other things, the law calls for at least one school resource officer to be at each school, one counselor for every 250 students, and  the creation of a new position called the state school security marshal to enforce safety compliance. As for funding Senate Bill 1, lawmakers are expected to determine that during next year’s legislative session.

In the meantime, Lyon County Schools Superintendent Russ Tilford said his district isn’t dependent on the state to invest into safety.

“Lyon County is unique, but over half of our school funding is from local dollars, so we’re already spending a great deal of our local tax dollars,” Lyon County Schools Superintendent Russ Tilford said. “We don’t rely on Frankfort to move us forward to what’s best for kids.”

Superintendent Russ Tilford

Tilford said many items in the law are not new.

“Much of what the bill will include is things we’re already doing in our local school districts. Many of those things are just simply best practice that the Kentucky Center for Safe Schools has promoted for a good while now,” said Tilford.

Tilford explained that, although the Lyon County School District has an elementary, middle and high school, they are all interconnected on one campus. To help keep the 900 or so students safe, the district has one full-time school resource officer provided by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department. Additional sheriff’s deputies and Eddyville police officers are on campus every morning as well.

“You never know what you might deter, what you may keep from happening simply because of that law enforcement presence, so we do value that,” said Tilford.

Tilford also said each school has its own counselor. Furthermore, the school district contracts with the Pennyroyal Center for mental health services for students.

“We are already in compliance with that component of the measure. But we’ll continue to look at ways to improve the counseling for our students,” Tilford said.

Although Tilford said the district has already been doing much of what’s in the new law, they will work to implement what’s new.

“The piece that is different, as I understand it, is the trauma-informed care. And I think that’s very instrumental in this piece. One of the biggest pieces of school safety that you’re going to find anywhere is developing relationships between the adults and the students,” said Tilford.

Tilford added that he talks with local law enforcement agencies weekly, if not almost daily, about school safety. District leaders also discuss school safety concerns during administrative meetings throughout the year.

Tilford said a few years ago, the Kentucky Center for School Safety visited Lyon County Schools to perform a safety threat assessment and audit for facilities and practices.

As for other parts of west Kentucky, The Ballard County School District has two school resource officers: one at the high school and middle school — which are one building — and another at the elementary school, according to the sheriff’s office. The McCracken County School District has seven school resource officers, including four at the high school.  The Marshall County School District has five SROs.

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