From WTSB's news site:
Ethridge To Introduce Bill To Help Schools With Security Needs
U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington), the only N.C. member of the Homeland Security Committee, has announced that he will introduce a comprehensive bill to improve federal efforts to help schools with their security needs. The legislation follows a multi-year effort to gather information from N.C. stakeholders about their school security needs. “Homeland security begins with hometown security, and federal support for local emergency preparedness and response makes our entire nation more secure,” said Etheridge. “Children spend the majority of their daylight hours in school, but schools are often overlooked when considering emergency preparedness and first responder needs. Given recent events at schools across the country, we as a nation simply must invest in emergency planning to ensure our children have safe and secure places to learn.” The Schools Empowered to Respond Act will provide increased federal guidance and access to resources to schools in developing and implementing their emergency response and preparedness plans. It will create a one-stop shop within the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate the department’s school security efforts and provide best practices for schools. The bill will give schools more access to federal funds and provide educators with an increased voice in state and local grant decisions. Etheridge crafted the legislation in response to the results of a survey of principals and superintendents in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District that found that although schools have emergency plans, they would like more assistance and direction from the federal government. The survey was followed by a nationwide Government Accountability Office study requested by Etheridge that reached similar conclusions. The legislation has the support of House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. It does not create any new requirements or mandates for schools, but instead seeks to provide schools with more support for their security measures. As the former Superintendent of North Carolina’s schools, Etheridge has made school security his top priority on the Homeland Security Committee.