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NEWS RELEASE
CONGRESSMAN BOB ETHERIDGE
NORTH CAROLINA

              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Contact: Joanne Peters
              DATE: March 20, 2006                                                                              Phone: (202) 225-4531

Etheridge: Federal Government Must Act Now to Improve N.C. School Security

Congressman Releases Results of District Survey

RALEIGH - U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington), the only N.C. member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, today released the results of his survey on school security in the Second Congressional District. The survey suggests that local schools do not receive adequate assistance and funding from the Department of Homeland Security in developing their emergency response plans and many are not adequately prepared to respond to an emergency. Etheridge discussed the results and their implications with local educators and updated them on his efforts in Congress to boost school security efforts.

"Our children are our most precious resource, and their safety should be our top priority," said Etheridge. "Recent events around the nation and the world remind us that our schools remain vulnerable. To protect our children, we must act now to improve our disaster preparedness and emergency response efforts to ensure an organized response to a crisis. North Carolina's schools have taken important steps to bolster school security, but they cannot do it alone. I hope that this survey will serve as a rallying cry to drastically improve the federal government's efforts to boost school security."

The survey found that:

  • The Department of Homeland Security is not a resource for Second District schools in developing emergency plans. No respondents reported seeking assistance from DHS in developing their security plans.

  • Schools would like the Department of Homeland Security to take a leadership role in school preparedness.

  • Schools are feeling the squeeze of federal budget cuts to emergency preparedness. Fifty percent of respondents said their emergency preparedness budget is "inadequate." Fifty-eight percent spend less than one percent of their school budget on emergency preparedness. Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities grants have decreased in North Carolina since September 11th, and the Administration has proposed eliminating these grants.

  • Respondents are not satisfied with their current state of preparedness. Seventy-five percent of schools have no conducted costly "full-field drills."

  • Federal efforts in school preparedness are uncoordinated and create confusion among respondents.

Etheridge sent surveys to principals and superintendents throughout the Second Congressional District in November to evaluate the preparedness of local schools for a potential emergency. Etheridge plans to use the survey's results to evaluate the status of school security in North Carolina. The survey results will provide Etheridge and the Homeland Security Committee with tangible evidence about how government can work with schools to improve school security to protect our children.

The survey is part of a larger project by House Homeland Security Committee Democrats to gather information on school security. The project is being conducted at Etheridge's request. Etheridge is also supporting legislation in Congress that would make school eligible for Department of Homeland Security grants to prepare for, prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. Etheridge has also asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of federal school security efforts.

For more information on the survey or the results, please visit www.house.gov/etheridge/schoolsecuritysurvey.

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