New School Security Law Provides Money, But Not Much, For Districts
Maximum of $50,000 available for each school district each of next 2 years
More money is available for school security thanks to a new state law, though the amount available for each school district will only go so far according to two school officials.
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The law sets aside $20 million in matching funds over the two-year budget period for school districts to spend on security. But the maximum amount available for each district is $50,000, which would barely pay a year's salary for a school resource officer in many districts. That's why some districts that apply for the money are looking to spend it for something other than new officers. "We're always in need of more security equipment - more cameras, more radios, things like that," said Krista Stockman, spokeswoman for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
When the bill was first announced prior to the legislative session in January, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he hoped school districts would use the money to put more resource officers in schools - in the case of smaller districts, perhaps their first resource officer. But some districts balk at that idea, since the funding is temporary. "We know we would have to pick up that cost after one year," said Stockman. "What we don't do as a district is start something and then, when the money runs out, end it."
Like Fort Wayne, Center Grove Schools in Johnson County will apply for the state grant, and superintendent Richard Arkanoff isn't sure exactly how the money will be spent. He wouldn't mind hiring another officer because he likes having them interact with students. "The trust factor that they build, and (the fact that) them just being there is a deterrent, they are the most important thing," when it comes to school security, Arkanoff said.
But Arkanoff also worries about hiring someone with only one year of money guaranteed. "Then, you'd have to look at their effectiveness and how useful they are, and whether they would be worth keeping even if the grant money runs out."
The bill originally included language that would have mandated at least one person on each school campus to be trained on how to use a gun if a school resource officer was not there. That language was removed before the bill was approved by lawmakers and signed by Governor Pence.