BOISE, Idaho – Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra says a new initiative, which she announced Monday, aims to increase safety in Idaho schools.

The nearly $21 million initiative, called Keep Idaho Students Safe or KISS for short, combines existing efforts – such as an anti-bullying campaign – with three new proposals:

  • A grant for trained security personnel in every school;
  • A safety course that increases teachers’ knowledge to support student safety and well-being; and
  • A statewide counselor to support schools in crisis and to plan prevention efforts.

“Our No. 1 priority is to keep our students safe,” Ybarra said in a prepared statement. “No single strategy or program is the answer, so KISS will add a toolbox of new measures to existing approaches that are already having an impact.”

Input from students, teachers and parents over the past three years shaped the initiative, and Ybarra said she plans to present the key areas of KISS during her statewide post-legislative tour in April. Among other things, she plans to visit schools and to conduct an online conversation to gather students’ thoughts and ideas.

Public school funding for the coming school year is already set, information from her office said, but the superintendent plans to ask the Legislature to fund KISS with a supplemental budget request at the start of the 2019 session in January. The funding, estimated at nearly $21 million, would be available for the second half of the 2018-19 school year.

“We need to do everything we can to help students, staff and families feel secure in Idaho’s schools,” Ybarra said. “We take that extremely seriously, and that’s what KISS is about.”