Larsen Leads Bill To Reauthorize School Safety Program

Jun 4, 2015 Issues: Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Reps. Rick Larsen, WA-02, Mike Coffman, CO-06, and Suzan DelBene, WA-01, introduced a bill to help pay for improved security measures in schools, such as training for staff and students, and deterrents like lighting and locks. The School Safety Act of 2015 would reauthorize the Secure Our Schools program, which provides matching grants to local, state and tribal governments to meet schools’ individual security needs.

“Schools must be a place where our students feel safe. I introduced this bill to help schools and communities assess and meet their unique safety needs. Sadly our country has not seen the end of violent crimes. Congress must do much more to make our schools and communities safer and shrink the cycle of violence. This bill helps empower schools to focus on what they do best: teaching our students and preparing them for their futures,” Larsen said.

“School violence has hit my district and Colorado hard and I am committed to finding ways to make our schools safer. This bipartisan, common sense legislation will help fund important school safety programs across the country. From education to improved technology, our schools can be made safer through a comprehensive approach to dealing with school violence. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with me in fighting to make our schools a safe place to learn," Coffman said.

“I’m strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of our students. While there is no one law that will prevent every single instance of senseless violence, like last year’s tragic shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, we can and must do more. The School Safety and Security Act is an important first step and I’m honored to help introduce it. This bipartisan legislation will provide critical resources to keep our schools safe, ensure teachers and administrators are adequately trained in security procedures, and improve notification and response technologies in schools across the country,” DelBene said.

Violence in schools has continued at a steady pace in recent years, with tragic shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash., in October 2014, and at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., in December 2013.

The Washington State School Directors’ Association has endorsed the bill.

The Secure Our Schools program takes a comprehensive approach to preventing violence in schools based on schools’ unique needs. Matching funds can pay for physical deterrents, security assessments, security training and coordination with local law enforcement. The Act reauthorizes the program and updates it to allow funding to cover emergency communications systems with local law enforcement.

A factsheet about the bill is available here.

Full text of the bill is available here.