• 32°

Be safe during the upcoming school year

By Sen. Ralph Alvarado

Kentucky families are busy as students get back into the routine of school and many after-school activities and sports. Clark County and Fayette County schools begin Aug. 16 and Montgomery County schools began on August 10. With each school year comes great opportunities and chances to achieve new levels of learning and valuable experience.

This is also a good time to brush up on basic back-to-school safety tips. There are quite a few precautions we can take to ensure the safety of our children, and the beginning of the school year is the best time to teach safety habits. The National Crime Prevention Council has great school safety tips to follow, such as:

— Talk to your child about their day, which can help you detect signs of bullying.

— Teach your child basic road safety rules, like walking on sidewalks and making sure the bus driver can see them before venturing around the bus.

— Educate your child on the dangers of talking to strangers and encourage them to stick with friends or siblings if a parent is not around.

— Help children memorize their parent’s or guardian’s phone number and address in case of an emergency.

The Kentucky General Assembly has also taken steps to help Kentucky’s children. In 1998 the General Assembly passed House Bill 330 establishing the Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS). The mission of this organization is to create a safe and secure learning environment so children have the best possible opportunities for long-term success.

More recently I was proud to be a part of efforts in last year’s Kentucky General Assembly to stop bullying in schools. Senate Bill 228 of 2016 defines bullying as “any unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.” 

In this year’s 2017 Session we also passed laws aimed at making children safer in schools, including House Bill 33 which relates to school notification of persons authorized to contact or remove a child. We in the General Assembly will continue such efforts to protect our children, and I hope all of you will continue to offer us input about the steps we can take to keep our schools safe.

I am excited for all of our students to begin this new school year, and from one educator to another, I want to thank our devoted teachers. According to the latest report on Kentucky school data, in the 2015-2016 school year Kentucky had over 655,000 public school students and over 42,000 public school teachers. Those numbers are incredible and do not even capture those who participate in private and other schooling. It truly takes a special person to dedicate his or her life to preparing Kentucky’s future, and our educators deserve praise for their commitment to our children.

I hope students, teachers, and parents have a wonderful and safe 2017-2018 school year.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Ralph.Alvarado@LRC.ky.gov.  You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

Senator Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) represents the 28th State Senate District including Clark and Montgomery counties and the eastern portion of Fayette County. He serves as the co-chairman of the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee, chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources, vice chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, and as a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee and State and Local Government Committee.