Student walk to class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Students at the school returned Wednesday, to a more secure campus as they began their first new school year since a gunman killed 17 people in the freshman building.
Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Federal commission increased money for school safety

State House committee on school safety to meet Tuesday

Much like the committees from Georgia’s state Senate and House, which are reviewing best practices to make schools safer, President Donald Trump convened a group of department heads on a federal level.

The Federal Commission on School Safety, formed shortly after the shooting earlier this year at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School,  will focus on best practices for school building security, active-shooter training, and school-based threat assessment.
The commission is chaired by Betsy DeVos, secretary of Education, and includes  Kirstjen M. Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security; Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and  Alex M. Azar II, secretary of Health and Human Services .

The group met for the fifth time today to continue its quest for enhancing school security measures. Before that meeting, Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell “Mick” Zais briefed the media on the work so far.

Through field visits, listening sessions and formal meetings at the White House, the committee is compiling information. It will not issue federal directives or mandates, he added.

Although there are already federal funding programs, Zais gave updates on new levels of funding.

  • A budget for student support has been increased from $400 million to $1.1 billion.
  • The funding connected to the STOP School Violence Act signed into law by President Trump on March 23 has been increased to $75 million. The law authorized funding for new violence-prevention programs and coordination among law enforcement agencies and school administrators to identify threats and intervene to improve school safety.
  • FEMA has been allocated $249 million in pre-disaster mitigation grants that may be used for safe rooms and warning systems.

The committee plans to present a report to the president by the end of the year.

Closer to home, State Representative Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, Chairman of the House Study Committee on School Security, announced that the study committee will hold its next meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21,  in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the Capital.

The general topic of this meeting is prevention and will will include presentations from: Lina Alathari, chief of the US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center; Joel Meyers, Georgia State University Center on School Safety, School Climate, and Classroom Learning; Melanie Dallas, Highland Rivers CSB; Justin Hill, Department of Education; the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Georgia School Counselors Association. 

This study committee, which was established by House Resolution 1414 during the 2018 legislative session, will examine public policy related to the security of school campuses in Georgia.

Like the federal committee, it will also release recommendations at the end of the year.

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