The shooting last May that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, prompted several state governors to pledge to make classrooms safer.
But their tracking speed varied.
Here’s a look at the status of school safety plans in several states as students return to school.
After the Uvalde shooting, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson reinstated a school safety commission he formed after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. The group is expected to release its final recommendations in October. In August, the Legislative Assembly approved the setting aside of $50 million for a school safety grant program. The grants will be based on the recommendations of the commission and the rules for distributing the funds are being worked out.
In California, which already had some of the toughest gun laws in the country, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a dozen more this legislative session. He also ran advertisements in Texas newspapers criticizing the state’s positions on guns. In July, Newsom signed gun control legislation modeled after a Texas anti-abortion law, allowing private citizens to sue to enforce the restrictions.
Lawmakers included $10 million in the budget for a school safety fund that was created in 2018 but had not received money in the past two fiscal years. Lawmakers also approved bipartisan legislation expanding permitted uses of the school safety fund to include lockdown drills, school threat assessments, prevention training and the hiring of enforcement personnel. laws. The bill was introduced in late April, before the Uvalde shooting, and initially proposed to only allow agents to be hired with money from the fund. The bill was not heard in committee until after the Uvalde 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 changes school safety law passed after a 2018 shooting at a Parkland high school that killed 17 people. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on June 7. The bill DeSantis signed directs the State Board of Education to enact requirements for emergency drills, requires law enforcement to participate in active-fire school drills, and requires school districts to certify that 80% of school staff have completed youth mental health awareness training.
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, announced in June that the state was providing $2.6 million to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to increase training capacity and courses for school resource officers. He said the state would use $1 million in federal funds to bolster school protection efforts, including training staff and school resource officers. Local and state law enforcement 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 climate.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill in August that requires the state’s nearly 600 school districts to set up threat assessment teams aimed at stemming violence in schools. The bill requiring the assessments was introduced two days after Uvalde’s shooting. The measure comes into force at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.
Three days after the Uvalde shooting, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would use $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to improve school safety. In August, he announced that more than 1,100 schools were receiving $47 million of that money for upgrades like security cameras, automatic door locks, visitor badge systems and outdoor lighting. The remaining $53 million will be distributed to schools that request it in the future.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order a month after the Uvalde shooting aimed at helping prepare schools and law enforcement for mass shootings. He orders law enforcement officers to undergo active shooter training. It also calls on the Oklahoma School Security Institute to provide risk assessments to all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the state. The order also directs school districts to implement by September the Rave Panic Button, a phone app that allows teachers and staff to immediately notify law enforcement and other staff of a emergency.
In Pennsylvania’s budget this year, lawmakers earmarked $200 million for school safety and mental health, with base funding of $200,000 for each district to be split equally between safety and mental health. Funding for mental health is new in this year’s budget. Funding was first established for safety and security grants in 2018 after the Parkland shootings. The money has always been used to improve security, including adding cameras, secure entrances and staff to school buildings.
Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed an executive order in June calling for more training and resources for school safety. He said his administration would 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 a “SafeTN” app so they can confidentially report suspicious activity with schools.
After 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 money was for bulletproof shields and $17.1 million was for districts to buy silent panic alert technology. The state has also earmarked $7 million for the state’s School Safety Center to conduct onsite assessments.
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