School safety is bipartisan issue, how much to spend is the question

Joe Schomacker

By Per Peterson

At the midway point of the 2018 legislative session, the question isn’t will schools have more money to spend on safety, it’s how much will they have to spend?

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed spending $21 million through his Safe and Secure Schools Act. Late last week, the House GOP countered with a $50 million plan.

The GOP’s plan includes increasing amounts of grant money already available for schools to pay for security improvements — which could include everything from building improvements to hiring staff — and relaxing current state laws that prohibit schools from spending certain funds, such as building maintenance dollars (Long Term Facility Maintenance, LTFM) on building security improvements. LTFM dollars can currently be spent only on improvements to current facilities, not new construction.

Under the House plan, schools would have access to money on a per-pupil basis.

District 22 A House Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) said some proposals in St. Paul focus on gun control but don’t directly address school safety; those, he said, have not gained any traction.

Schomacker said the GOP’s proposal is a comprehensive one that gives attention and provides resources to schools to help them make decisions on how they would best address the safety issue.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.