Baker: Secure Mass. schools with surplus
BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker asked lawmakers Friday to direct a portion of the state’s budget surplus toward making public schools safer for students and teachers.
“This is something we have been discussing with our colleagues at the local level for the past several months, especially after Parkland,” said Baker, referring to the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school.
The plan calls for $72 million to bolster security and take steps to identify and help troubled students before any threats might arise.
The largest chunk of the state money, $40 million, would be steered to school districts to allow for the hiring of more social workers and mental health professionals. Baker said the most pressing request of school superintendents was providing students “access to people they could talk to and who were trained to deal with whatever their particular issues or circumstances might be.”
The proposal also calls for $20 million in grants to school districts for enhancing the physical security of school buildings. The grants could be used for things such as upgrades to communication and alarm systems during emergencies, and for the creation of single pointof-entry systems in buildings to prevent unauthorized entries.
Increased training for school resource officers, creation of a tip line for the reporting of potential risks and a statewide school safety website, are among other goals in the plan.