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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Tragedy Prompts School Security Upgrade Proposals

Districts and local and state governments are investigating ways to upgrade school safety as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.

In response to last month’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 people dead, schools, districts and local and state governments around the nation are dedicating more resources to improving school security.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, for instance, signed a sweeping school safety bill into law March 9 after proposing a nearly $500 million plan to improve school safety the week before. The law is designed to improve campus security, emergency preparedness and information sharing between schools and emergency response agencies, among other things.

Another state considering legislation to improve school security is Georgia, reports MyAJC.com. Legislative leaders are proposing $16 million in grants so districts can beef up security.

Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing $21 million for security enhancements and mental health improvements, reports Valley News Live. The improvements would include bullet-resistant windows and secure entrances, as well as an expansion of mental health services. Additionally, Dayton’s proposal would direct school districts to share information on expelled students with administrators and law enforcement.

New Mexico will earmark up to $40 million over the next four years to upgrade public school security, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Up to $10 million per year will available for security projects like fencing, intercoms and controlled entrances. The funding, however, is not new money. It will come out of the fund that pays for other school capital improvements. Gov. Susana Martinez has also suggested hiring retired police officers to protect campuses.

Districts are also setting aside more funding for security upgrades. Campus Safety previously reported that the Easton Area School District in Pennsylvania will put armed security officers in each of its seven elementary schools. The school board has authorized the addition of 10 to 12 part-time positions to focus on the elementary schools.

The superintendent for the West Genesee school district in New York said on Wednesday that his budget plan is heavy on school security, reports CNY Central. The district is considering a proposition for $2 million that would go towards new security measures. Those options include hardening entrances and classroom doors, as well as the adoption of new identification systems.

Monroe, Conn., schools are also looking to make improvements. School Superintendent John Battista is investigating the benefits of hiring school security officers (SSOs), reports the Monroe Courier. SSOs are armed and must be ex-police officers or ex-military who have left their positions in “good standing,” and have been trained by the local police department. Battista says he is not considering replacing the school resource officers (SROs) that currently patrol the district’s campuses.

In Pennsylvania, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has unveiled a two-year, $14.8 million plan that would boost school security with more officers, more secure doors and bulletproof shields, reports the Capital Gazette. The proposal would add 20 SROs to public schools, which is enough to staff every high school and middle school with an officer. Other improvements include lock upgrades for 4,000 classroom doors, double-door security at all high schools and more than 1,500 video surveillance cameras.

Last month, Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ron Bateman called for metal detectors, bulletproof doors and X-ray machines at all county schools.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has also announced $125 million in funds to enhance school safety and $50 million in additional operating funds each year for school safety grants.

The Parkland, Fla., high school mass shooting isn’t the first time a campus tragedy has lead to improvements in school security. In a 2013 study, Campus Safety found that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting prompted nearly nine in 10 K-12 respondents and more than one in two university and hospital respondents to make changes in their public safety programs. The 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting made many education stakeholders review, implement and upgrade a wide variety of solutions related to safety and security.

About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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