INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers want to offer more grant funding for school security.
When he first introduced his proposed budget, Gov. Eric Holcomb asked lawmakers to approve more funding for school safety. Now they’re moving forward with House Bill 1492, which would greatly expand how those grants can be used.
As keeping kids safe at school remains top of mind, school resource officers say they routinely look for ways to improve security.
“More and more communities take a hard look at what they have in their community to keep their kids safe and try to address that moving forward,” said Teancum Clark, second vice president for the Indiana School Resource Officers Association.
Clark, who serves as a school resource officer in Bartholomew County, said many schools are looking to add more SROs, better train staff members and upgrade their infrastructure.
Now, the proposal to expand Indiana’s Secured School Safety Grant Fund would allow more of those costs to be covered.
Currently, the program gets $19 million per year. House Republicans and Gov. Holcomb have proposed raising that to $25 million annually.
Schools would be allowed to use the funding in many more ways, including new technology.
“From identifiers in emails to digital mapping of campuses so people can react quickly,” explained State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), who introduced House Bill 1492.
The bill passed in the House with unanimous support and is now being considered by the Senate. It cleared the Senate Education committee Wednesday and now heads to the Senate Appropriations committee.
The legislation would also require all counties to establish a school safety commission.
“The assurance is everybody’s on the same page,” McNamara said. “Fire [department] knows how to react, law enforcement knows how to react, teachers know how to react.”
But some are worried the proposed funding increase won’t be enough. Terry Spradlin of the Indiana School Boards Association said he would like to see at least $30 million allocated per year.
“We need more to meet the demands and quite frankly, we need to do all that we can to stay a step ahead of perpetrators,” Spradlin said.
The funding for the proposal is part of the new two-year state budget, which is still in the works.