Pa. Senate leader suggests steep increase in school security funding
The leader of Pennsylvania's Senate wants to increase grant funding twentyfold for school security, including armed guards.
Prompted by the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting last month, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says he'll introduce a measure to increase funding for a school grant program from $500,000 to $10 million.
Schools would be allowed to use the grants to train and hire armed security guards.
Making schools safer requires a multi-pronged approach, cautions Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.d
"This isn't just about guns and it's not just about armed guards," Keever said. "A long-term sustainable school safety program has to have commitment to preventive measures, like mental health services and bully prevention, and some sort of meaningful action on gun control."
Keever says PSEA isn't opposed to more funding for armed and trained security guards in schools, but other things that would make schools safer have been difficult to secure with the past several years of austere budgets.
"School counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, all these types of positions have been cut in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, so that's a trend that needs to be reversed," he said Tuesday.
Schools would also be able to use the grants to pay for security-related planning and purchases, including equipment like metal detectors and locks.
The funding could also be used for conflict-resolution programs for students.