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AZ Superintendent's plan to help keep students safe

Posted at 1:38 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 21:15:52-04

Arizona's superintendent says the state must find new ways to fund education -- especially teachers salaries and school safety. Diane Douglas sat down with KGUN9 investigative reporter Valerie Cavazos about her 3 pronged plan to help districts keep students safe.

Terrifying moments in a Sahuaro High School classroom -- caught on cam -- shined a negative light on a breakdown in safety procedures. A teacher, who thought something -- possibly bullets -- shattered the classroom windows, desperately tried a number of times to call the front office for help while students hid under desks. It took 8 minutes for a monitor to finally show up.

The principal and TUSD superintendent acknowledged the breakdown and vowed to fix it -- both citing various ways to do that --  security cameras -- keyless entries.

State Superintendent Diane Douglas favors another approach -- for districts. "Perimeter fencing -- make sure schools have one entry and exit point so they can be controlled to a degree," she said.

And her plan that could help pay for facility improvements -- a boost in Prop 301 - the education sales tax. "Would not only get teachers a significant pay increase, but would also now use 100 million to make sure our facilities are safe," said Douglas.

The second part of her 3 pronged plan: Hiring more SRO's -- school resource officers -- or teachers who are trained to handle guns. "We have a lot of former military, a lot of former law enforcement. We're hoping to bring a program Arizona Troops to Teachers. I would never ask a teacher who doesn't want to be trained -- doesn't want to carry a gun on campus, but if we have appropriately trained teachers that is how we're going to get the fastest response in a crisis," she said.

And the last piece of her plan involves addressing mental health. Douglas said, "And this is where the Governor and I share some views that how are we making sure we learning from Florida that there were red flags all over the place."

Counselors, she believes, could do more to spot warning signs. But in Arizona, the student to counselor ratio is about 920 to 1 -- the highest in the country. The recommended average is 250-to-1. "I don't want counselors to be put in a position where they have to do the psychological analysis of a student, but if they're there with these students and meeting them each and every day or once a week or whatever, it's our teachers and counselors who are going to see some of those warning signs," she said.

Douglas says Arizona needs to think outside the box. "We need a new revenue source in Arizona to support education. In my opinioon. you're trying to figure that out -- that revenue source? I have some ideas coming out in the very near future," she said.

We'll keep you updated.