Kansas bill would cut back required school drills

Students across Kansas know the drill, and they should, since the state requires them to go through at least 16 per school year.

“Safety is important, especially fire and even tornado drills come in the spring. It’s good to let the kids know where to go and where to be, to be safe during school. So, I think they should keep the numbers high,” said Patrick Cassidy, a junior at Columbus High School.

But Cassidy admits that officials could cut that number in half, and he’d still feel pretty safe.

“I feel like we’re prepared, so I feel comfortable with all the drills.”

While some drills may take longer than others, they all add up, taking away from valuable class time.

“You’re averaging a drill every 10 days. That disruption in the learning process is problematic with all the other disruptions we have,” said Brian Smith, Superintendent of the Columbus School District.

Senate Bill 128 would ease the number of disruptions though, cutting back crisis drills from nine to three, and tornado drills from three to two. Fire drills would remain the same at 4.

“I don’t know if there’s a good set number, but the good thing about it is, this is just a minimum. So a school district may choose to continue to have 16 or more, or they could have 12, but they do have some local control over that. Every district is a little different and their safety needs are a little different,” explained Smith.

No matter the number, Cassidy and others appreciate drills as a protection, in case he or his friends ever have to face the real deal.

“We feel safe. I mean, we go through them enough. You gotta do what you gotta do.”

The bill is scheduled to come before the House on March 11.