Haslam proposes $30 million for school safety

Staff Reports • Mar 20, 2018 at 7:14 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam announced a proposal Tuesday for $30 million to improve school safety across the state through an amendment to the proposed budget, which will be considered by the Tennessee General Assembly in the coming weeks.

The funding would include $25 million in nonrecurring and $5.2 million in recurring school safety grants.

Haslam appointed a School Safety Working Group earlier this month to review school safety in Tennessee and provide recommendations to enhance the security of school children.

The working group will submit options for consideration that will serve as a basis for state action and approved school safety measures.

“Our children deserve to learn in a safe and secure environment and I’ve asked the working group to make specific recommendations on school safety measures,” Haslam said. “These additional school safety funds, which include doubling the current amount of recurring funding we have through our school safety grants, will provide our schools with additional resources to meet their specific needs.”

The budget amendment also contains $3 million in nonrecurring funds for grants to provide funding for school districts to address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District announced plans last week to enhance school safety throughout the district. 

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office has created a “Concerned Citizens Report,” along with a specialized database to help track and manage all future incident reports. Any time a report is entered into the system, a text message and email will automatically be sent to a school resource officer supervisor for review.

Wilson County is one of a few counties in the state to have at least one school resource officer in each public school, including multiple officers at high schools.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said the centralized database will not only provide for more thorough record keeping of each case, but will also prevent incidents of suspected violence from slipping through the cracks.

The department will also launch a school safety committee, comprised of teachers, parents, Youth Services staff and members from the district attorney’s office. The group will meet quarterly to address specific concerns from the community and identify new safety initiatives.

The budget amendment is traditionally introduced in the final weeks of the legislative session for consideration and approval by the General Assembly. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin will present the budget amendment to the House and Senate finance committees Tuesday.

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