Kemp unveils school safety plan

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has unveiled a plan for public school safety. CONTRIBUTED

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp wants to keep the state’s school children safe by wrapping them in a $90 million security blanket.

He did not define a specific source of funding to pay for it.

The current secretary of state unveiled a plan today that he called a “three prong” approach. Adding a school counselor in all 343 state public high schools, providing one-time funding for schools to spend as they see fit and creating a school safety division within the Georgia Department of Education he said he will ensure Georgia classrooms are ripe for learning -- not violence.

Support Counselor Program

Modeled after former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s graduation coach program, Kemp’s plan will put a support counselor in every school. These individuals would be tasked with assisting and guiding students who are battling mental health issues, opioid abuse, violence in the home, bullying and suicide. In addition, they would work to improve graduation rates by connecting students, families with available academic resources and services. This would come at a cost of $22,980,000 which is roughly $67,000 each for salary and benefits.

One-time funding for school security

Each of Georgia’s 2,292 public schools will receive a one-time allotment of $30,000 to use as they see fit for school security. Kemp’s talking points showed that the funds could be used for personnel, such as a school police officer; capital expenditures, such as cameras or metal detectors; or operational expenses, such a data analytics.

When asked if that one-time payment would be enough to sustain these measures, Kemp said that his research indicated that it would. Even though smaller districts may be hard-pressed to budget in maintenance or additional personnel, he said the state would provide guidance if needed.

School safety division

Kemp didn’t give a lot of specific detail on how the state Department of Education would establish a division for school safety. He did say he’s been in talks with Superintendent Richard Wood about it.

When asked about his thoughts on arming teachers, he replied that although he supports the Second Amendment, he believes the decision to arm teachers should be left to local school districts.

At the Senate School Safety Study Committee meeting held Tuesday at Chamblee High School, the GBI outlined an existing program that was similar to what Kemp has outlined.

This program, however, would cost taxpayers nothing according to Kemp, who indicated he would be able to find the money in the state budget.

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