Baker: Se­cure Mass. schools with sur­plus

Woonsocket Call - - REGION / OBITUARIES / FAITH -

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.

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