As state lawmakers discuss how to make New Mexico schools safer, one local district is taking matters into its own hands.
It is focusing on prevention of school shootings and the mental health issues that precede them.
In an attempt to keep these horrific tragedies from ever happening, Santa Fe Public Schools officials believe hiring social workers, among other changes, could be a great start.
“If a student appears depressed, is angry, is acting out and could potentially be a threat, we want to provide that support to the child and the family,” said Superintendent Dr. Veronica Garcia.
Dr. Garcia says $300,000 is being set aside to help troubled students.
“We’re looking at five master social workers who could provide a rapid response,” said Dr. Garcia.
The help comes in the form of social workers who will work out of the District Office, serving all 30 Santa Fe Public Schools.
They will be called in to help by counselors or principals.
“We do believe anti-bullying is an important measure,” said Dr. Garcia.
The social workers are not the only new tool.
Starting this fall, every grade level will watch an instructional safety video starring students.
“It comes from the perspective of the child and not necessarily from the adult, giving them instruction of what they need to be doing,” said Mario Salbidrez, Director of Security and Safety.
The video will go over safety procedures for lockdowns, shelter in place, and fire drills.
The idea was brought to the board by Salbidrez, who expects this approach to be much more effective than officials lecturing kids.
“It gives them a better understanding of what the drill is intended to complete or accomplish when they run the drill in case it is needed in the future,” said Salbidrez.
Salbidrez is also recommending that practice drills be held more often throughout the year, ideally, three times.
“When we do it a second time we are going to be just a little better and when we do it a third time we’ll be a little better then as well. So we’ll start finding answers to our problems and put them in motion when we do have these drills,” said Salbidrez.
Santa Fe Public Schools does not have its own police department, like APS. That is why the idea to beef up school security with resource officers will have to go through the Santa Fe Police Department.
It will be a topic of discussion at a School Resource Officer study session in August.
Currently, SFPS has security guards who work only at the high school and middle schools.