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McDonnell Hears Recommendations from Task Force - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McDonnell Hears Recommendations from Task Force

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Governor Bob McDonnell is reviewing early recommendations from his newly created School and Campus Safety Task Force.

The group, made up of educators, students, lawmakers and public safety leaders, is charged with addressing school security in the wake of the fatal December shootings at a Connecticut elementary school. This week's proposals come less than three weeks after the first meeting of the task force.

The group's initial recommendations, crafted during the past two and a half weeks, include required lockdown drills at the start of every semester, funding for armed school resource officers (SROs) and efforts to define and prevent bullying. Other components address keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and a statewide suicide prevention program.

Task force members say they are proud of their initial recommendations.

"These are some of the things that were glaringly needed," said Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope. He is assigned to the task force's workgroup on mental health.

Some actions recommended by the task force can be taken immediately by the governor. Others will require legislation or budget amendments. Hope says it may take some convincing to set aside money for some of the recommendations, but he remains optimistic.

"The things that cost money are going to be a little bit harder to lift here in the legislature, but I support them wholeheartedly," he said.

And school safety seems to be a bipartisan priority. Republicans in the House of Delegates announced Friday new budget amendments setting aside $31 million in funding for school safety. That includes $1.7 million to help pay for more armed SROs - perhaps not-so-coincidentally echoing the task force's proposals. It also establishes a $30 million grant program ($6 million over five years) to fund security improvements at schools across the state.

Independent from those budget proposals, the task force recommendations are now in the hands of lawmakers. Final recommendations are due to the governor by June 30.

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