Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle promises to set aside half-a-million dollars to hand out as grants to schools for implementing safety plans. Nussle says the money could be used to better coordinate the actions of school officials, cops, fire fighters, E-M-Ts and state government agencies that would respond to an emergency at an Iowa school.
“Updating it for more than just fires and tornadoes, to recognize some of the new challenges involving everything from terrorism to the unfortunate circumstances that surround gun violence and intruders to schools,” Nussle says. “All of this needs to be done if we’re going to make sure our schools are safe.” Nussle says most Iowa schools already have drawn up emergency plans, but state law only requires schools to devise strategies to deal with tornadoes and fires.
Nussle says the state grants would help leverage more federal grant money to pay for training and materials for school emergency plans. “Some of the schools are in unique situations that may, as a result, require not only an understanding of best practices but also unique plans that may cost money,” Nussle says. “So I want to make sure that schools can get the job done and get the job done quickly.”
Nussle would have his Lieutenant Governor Bob Vander Plaats, a former school teacher and coach, oversee the “School Safety Emergency Preparedness Plans” in every Iowa schools district and ensure the emergency plans in state agencies coordinate with those at the local level.
“He’s been a principal, understands the preparedness aspects of a school building, what needs to be done to protect classrooms as well as the challenges that administrators are going through…trying to get the job done and working with local law enforcement and state agencies,” Nussle says. “Having someone who can coordinate all those activities and break through all the paperwork and bureaucracy to get the job done I believe is a priority that should be in the governor’s office.”
According to a news release from Nussle’s campaign, Nussle — as a member of congress and chair of the House Budget Committee — helped secure almost 90-million dollars for the nation’s schools in the past three years to bankroll “Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiatives.” Five Iowa school districts and one Area Education Agency were among the recipients of federal grants from the program.
The recipients were the Allamakee Community School District in Waukon; Des Moines Independent Community School District; Lineville-Clio Community School District in Lineville; Mississippi Bend AEA in Bettendorf; Sioux City Community School District; and Van Buren Community Schools in Keosauqua.