Portland Public Schools discuss safety improvements for students

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 10:22 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Portland Public Schools met Tuesday night to discuss their budget but the talk wasn’t just about usual spending.

Board members were presented with safety findings from a task force, which included some staff members, students and parents from schools recently impacted by gun violence.

Members came up with a list of 13 ways to better campus safety and protocol including additional safety teams that patrol longer and into after-hours activities.

Some students say they’re not only afraid on campus but on their way to school as well. The task force says it could be beneficial to have community members patrolling areas around schools where they hope to pilot a program soon.

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Also discussed was the incorporation of mandatory safety training for staff and a potential contracted relationship with PPB.

Some students voiced concerns about their schools turning into prisons with armed personnel at every corner.

“I think that students should not only be at the center of this issue, but they are at the center of this issue,” said student representative Byronie McMahon. “It’s called student safety for a reason and the second that we lose sight of who we’re serving here is when we as a board have really failed at our job.”

But as the PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero noted, there’s still work to be done prior to anything being signed off on.

“There’s resources to pursue, there’s further steps we need to take on every single one of the areas,” Guerrero said. “Some we’ll be able to do immediately. Some we’ll continue to roll out. I love the idea of checking in on how these are going.”

PPS says so far the district has upgraded locks at 40 schools and has been investing a significant amount of money into video surveillance.

The school board will continue to discuss the budget in the coming weeks, with the next meeting planned for May 23.