Ulman urges public engagement at school safety forums

With two community forums scheduled by the Joint Task Force on School Safety, County Executive Ken Ulman is urging public attendance and input in regards to improving the safety of Howard County schools.

The task force, established last month by the county government after the shooting at Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut, is holding forums Tuesday, Jan. 8, and Monday, Jan. 14, from 7 – 9 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.

"We know there are broader, societal issues at play with tragedies such as the Newtown shootings," Ulman said in a release. "It's important that all of the stakeholders in our community use these forums as an opportunity to share their views and suggestions, so that we can lower the odds that a tragedy like this happens again. Our top priority is to do all we can to make sure our schools are secure and that our children have the safest learning environment possible."

Ulman announced the formation of the task force Dec. 17, three days after the Connecticut shooting. The task force is chaired by County Chief of Police Bill McMahon, the school system's Executive Director of School Improvement and Administration William Ryan and Acting Chief of Operations and Finance Ken Roey. Members include representatives from the county government, public safety, public health, the school system, parents and students.

At the forum, the task force will share its mission and solicit feedback on school safety, according an email to parents from Superintendent Renee Foose. The three areas the task force is charged to look at are physical security and security protocols in schools, emergency response planning, and prevention.

Community members are asked to register for the forum in advance at hcpss.org; registration is closed for the first forum, though residents can still offer input through the website.

The forums will be held in the cafeteria at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road.

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