Schools are getting help from the state to make classrooms more secure. Governor Bill Haslam announced Tuesday he is setting aside millions of dollars in the budget just for school safety.
Governor Bill Haslam amended his budget to include $30 million for safety measures following school shootings around the country.
"It’s obviously an incredibly difficult situation for the entire country, and all of us are trying to be as thoughtful as we can," said Haslam.
Haslam created a School Safety Working Group last month. The members will be providing recommendations on the best ways to improve school security across the state in the near future.
"Obviously, you have two main avenues ... the thing that will take a lot of recurring dollars, which would be SROs everywhere or more personnel-based costs, and everybody realizing that there's dollars attached. And then you have the school physical safety issues," Haslam said.
Roughly $5 million will be recurring money to be used for school resources officers and safety equipment, but that may not be enough to give struggling schools extra school resource officers.
“The biggest disappointment is we aren’t going to be able to hire too many school resource officers, but that’s a good start," said Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.
How the bulk of the money will be used is up to Haslam’s safety task force, which is made up of state lawmakers, educators, law enforcement and other stakeholders. There are no guidelines so far for where the money will go.
"There was a need to go ahead and set aside some money. We want to leave room for that group to make recommendations and working with the legislature, we will specify exactly where that money will go," Haslam said.
When the state’s finance commissioner Larry Martin explained that to lawmakers during a hearing today, one questioned the whether there is a real need for the spending.
"I think it warrants to look closely at what we are doing for school safety and look at what role state government should play," Martin said.
The funding also includes $3 million for seat belts on school buses.
All of the money would come from grants that schools would have to apply for if the budget is approved.
Some other items included in the budget proposal are: $5 million for broadband accessibility grants $9 million for improving and modernizing workforce development programs $1 million for mental health treatment and recovery services $2 million for an addiction services research program $10 million for creating jobs and investment opportunities within the state's aviation industry.Click here to view the entire amendment to the budget proposal.
The budget amendment will have to be approved by the General Assembly. The proposal will be presented to the House and Senate Finance committees on Tuesday.
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