Pending Legislation Could Provide Grants for School Safety Improvements
A number of legislative measures are currently pending that are designed to help increase the safety and security levels of schools. Most recently, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass legislation that would provide grants to local communities and schools throughout the United States to improve safety within the schools. The School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 (S.146) is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – Calif.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R – Maine).
If passed by the entire Congress, the bill would provide for $40 million annually for safety improvements and security assessments for the nation’s schools. Local schools would apply for “Secure Our School” grants through the Justice Department.
The legislation also would create an interagency task force that would “develop and promulgate a set of advisory school safety guidelines,” according to the text of the bill.
The act would require that the funds be used “as an effective means for improving the safety of one or more schools.” Additionally, those applying for the grants would be required to show that the plans for the funds are “consistent with a comprehensive approach to preventing school violence and individualized to the needs of each school at which those improvements are to be made.”
“Protecting our children and our grandchildren from harm should be our number-one priority,” says Sen. Boxer. “This bipartisan bill would give local communities and schools the opportunity to benefit from new resources and tools to help keep their students safe.”
“The Secure our Schools Grant Program helps state and local governments work in close partnership to improve school safety, protect our students, and create a safe learning environment,” adds Sen. Collins. “It is vital that community law enforcement professionals and agencies are adequately supported in their mission to keep our schools and communities safe.”
The legislation, which would provide for a range of safety improvements in schools, now will move to the Senate floor for review.
Similar legislation was previously introduced in 2008 when Rep. Steven Rothman of New Jersey introduced H.R.2352, School Safety Enhancements Act of 2008, which has since been approved by the house judiciary committee. If adopted the bill would also provide funding for school safety.
Turn to pages 56-57 for a look at various safety and security measures some school boards and jurisdictions are considering.
Florida Legislation Calls for Stronger Glazing in Schools
If recently introduced Florida legislation is made into law, it could mean more stringent requirements for the state’s schools. Introduced by Florida Representative Carl F. Zimmerman, HB 201 would require school districts, state universities and Florida College System institutions to retrofit doors, windows and locks to meet Florida Building Code standards and newly introduced security-related requirements by June 30, 2015.
The legislation would require door glazing to prevent an intruder from opening the door by reaching through a broken window and unlocking/unlatching. Likewise, windows would be required to be bullet resistant or meet current hurricane-resistance standards.
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