States’ plans to make schools safer reflect political divide

After the school shooting in Uwald, Texas, Governors across the country have vowed to take steps to keep students safe.

After a few months, students return to classroomsfunding has started flowing to school safety upgrades, training and other new efforts to make classrooms safer.

but respond Often reflects political divisions: Many Republicans have emphasized spending on school safety, while Democrats have called for stronger gun control.

At every step, the actions have fueled debate about whether states are doing the right thing to address school shootings.

At a special legislative session in Arkansas last month, lawmakers set aside $50 million for school safety funds Proposed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The rules for distributing the funds have not been finalized, but Hutchinson said he hopes it will help implement the recommendations of the School Safety Committee, which he reverted after the May shooting in Texas, which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

Hutchinson said the shooting “reminds us that the threat of violence in our schools has not diminished.” “It remains true that we must act with a new sense of urgency to protect our children.”

Texas is one of several other states that set aside money for school safety. Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Republican leaders announced $105.5 million for school safety initiatives.Nearly half of that went to bulletproof shields for school police, and $17.1 million went to school districts to buy panic alarm technology.

Other Republican governors who have funded safety upgrades include Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who announced $100 million for school safety three days after the Uwald shooting, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Brian Kemp), the state provided $2.6 million to increase training capacity and curriculum for school resource officers.

“While these are the latest steps we have taken to keep our children safe, I can assure you they will not be the last. I will work with anyone to protect our students,” Camp, who is running for re-election, said in June.

Some Republican governors who have moved aggressively to strengthen school safety have ruled out any form of gun control.

Hutchinson had said there should be discussions about raising the age for buying AR-15-style rifles — the type of weapon Uwald uses — but no such steps were taken during the meeting.Abbott also hits back at calls for more gun control Families of victims of the shooting by Uvalde. Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt vowed to fight any gun restrictions when he signed an executive order on school enforcement and risk assessment training.

In California, which already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a dozen more in this legislative session and even ran ads in Texas newspapers criticizing The state’s stance on guns.

“We’re tired of being defensive in this sport,” Newsom said in July.

In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation last month requiring nearly 600 school districts in the state to create assessment teams aimed at curbing school violence.A sponsor of the bill recounts hearing of a Uwald victim who pretended to be killed Escape shooter in attack.

“Does anyone want to teach this — how to play dead?” Democratic Congresswoman Pamela Lampitt said at a hearing in June.

Despite partisan divide on gun violence, group of governors say they will try to find common groundIn the wake of the Uvalde shooting, a task force formed by the National Governors Association will develop recommendations to stop mass shootings, with a focus on school safety.Hutchinson, the association’s former president, said the task force will focus in part on how states use funds obtained through bipartisan gun control bills Signed by President Joe Biden in June.

Teachers, political opponents and others have questioned the scope and effectiveness of the state leaders’ program.

In Arkansas, Democratic lawmakers questioned whether school districts receiving funds from the new grant program would need to have armed personnel on campus, one of the initial recommendations of the state’s School Safety Committee.

“It’s one thing to say ‘school safety,’ but it’s very broad,” said Sen. Linda Chesterfield, a retired educator and the only voter Lawmakers who oppose the funding plan. “What do you think specifically, what is the price of it? I think I’m just tired of having to sit still and have no idea what the (committee’s) report is going to be about.”

In Ohio, teachers’ unions say one-time funding for equipment such as door locks and radio systems — but not for ongoing needs such as personnel — is helpful, but not enough.

Schools also need funding for staffing, including safety and mental health staff, said Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association.

“Ideally, you would use funds to ensure that every school that wants to hire trained school resource officers, as part of their school safety program, can do so,” DiMauro said. “From that perspective, you know, $100 million is not going to solve the problem in the long run.”

School safety plans in several states as students return to school

In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson reinstated the School Safety Committee he established after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. The group is expected to issue its final recommendations in October. In August, the Legislature approved a $50 million school safety grant program. Grants will be based on the committee’s recommendations, and rules are being developed for how funds will be allocated.
In California, which already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a dozen more in this legislative session. He also ran ads in Texas newspapers criticizing the state’s stance on guns. In July, Newsom signed a gun control law modeled after Texas’ anti-abortion lawallowing ordinary citizens to sue to enforce the restrictions.
Lawmakers included $10 million in their budget for the School Safety Fund, established in 2018, but have not received funding in the past two fiscal years. Lawmakers also approved bipartisan legislation that expands the permissible uses of the school safety fund to include lockdown drills, school threat assessments, prevention training and hiring law enforcement officers. The bill, introduced in late April before the Uvalde shooting, was initially proposed to only allow police officers to be hired using funds from the fund. The legislation didn’t get a committee hearing until after the Uwald shooting, and Democratic Gov. John Carney has yet to sign the bill, which received final approval in late June.
The Florida legislature passed a bill in March that made changes to the school safety law passed in the wake of the 2018 Parkland High School shooting that killed 17 people. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on June 7. The bill signed by DeSantis directs the state board of education to adopt emergency drill requirements, requiring law enforcement to participate in aggressive shooting school drills and requiring school districts to certify that 80 percent of school personnel complete youth mental health awareness training.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced in June that the state would provide $2.6 million to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to improve training capacity and curriculum for school resource officers. He said the state will use $1 million in federal funding to bolster school protection efforts, including training staff and school resource officers. Local and state law enforcement agencies will be able to compete for $4.5 million in grants for school safety, use of force and de-escalation training, and mental health needs. The state is also seeking $3 million in federal grants to increase training and improve school climates.
New Jersey
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill in August requiring nearly 600 school districts in the state to create threat assessment teams to curb school violence. The bill calling for an assessment came two days after the Uwald shooting. The measure is effective for the 2023-2024 school year.
Three days after the Uwald shooting, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state would use $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for school safety upgrades. In August, he announced that more than 1,100 schools would receive $47 million of that funding to upgrade security cameras, automatic door locks, visitor ID systems and exterior lighting. The remaining $53 million will be allocated to schools that apply in the future.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order a month after the Uvalde shooting aimed at helping schools and law enforcement prepare for mass shootings. It instructs law enforcement officers to complete active shooting training. It also called on the Oklahoma School Safety Institute to conduct a risk assessment of every public and private elementary and middle school in the state. The order also directs school districts to use the Rave Panic Button, a phone app that allows teachers and staff to immediately notify law enforcement and other staff of emergencies, through September.
In Pennsylvania’s budget this year, lawmakers set aside $200 million to address school safety and mental health, with a $200,000 base fund for each school district, divided equally between safety and mental health. Mental health funding is new to this year’s budget. For the first time since the Parkland shooting in 2018, funding was established for safety and security grants. The money has historically been used to improve security – including adding cameras, security entrances and personnel to school buildings.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order in June calling for more training and resources for school safety. He has said his administration will increase resources for schools and law enforcement in the fall. Earlier this month, ahead of the new school year, Lee also encouraged parents to download the “SafeTN” app so they could confidentially report suspicious activity at the school.
In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Republican leaders announced the transfer of $105.5 million for school safety initiatives.Nearly half of that went to bulletproof shields, and $17.1 million went to regions to buy silent panic alarm technology. The state also allocated $7 million for the state’s School Safety Center to conduct on-site assessments.

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