Larsen, Davis Lead Bipartisan Letter Increasing School Safety Grants

Mar 1, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today announced they are leading a bipartisan letter requesting $150 million, more than nine times the amount that has ever been appropriated, for Secure Our Schools grants, to be included in next month’s funding bill. Secure Our Schools grants go to state and local governments to help increase safety measures in schools. Reps. Larsen and Davis made the following statement on their efforts:

“Last week, Andrew Pollack, the parent of Meadow, a student killed at Marjory Stoneman High School, passionately reminded all of us that we have failed as a country to protect our schools and we must work together to keep our children safe. Helping schools increase safety is something we believe Congress should be able to agree on and it is something we can address right now to help prevent another tragedy. That is why we are asking for $150 million for the Secure Our Schools program, nine times the amount of money that has ever been appropriated.

“Just as there was not one singular failure that led to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman High School, there is not one singular law that will solve this, but that is not an excuse for inaction. While Congress should continue to work together to address the larger failures impacting our system, there is an opportunity now, with this upcoming funding bill, to help increase safety in our schools. We should not miss this opportunity. Too often, Washington allows our differences on one issue to prevent action in areas where we agree. We cannot let that happen here.”

Secure Our Schools grants provide funding to state and local governments to develop school safety resources, including physical security measures such as metal detectors, locks and lighting. The grants also provide security training for personnel and students along with coordination with local law enforcement. The program requires a 50 percent local and state match. In 2010, the program received $16 million.

Today’s letter, addressed to Speaker Paul Ryan and leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, is currently being circulated for signatures.

Rep. Larsen has been a strong advocate for the Secure our Schools grants. Following a tragic shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2014, Congressman Larsen met with school administrators, police officers and the community to discuss ways to ensure the safety of young people at school. As a result of these meetings, Congressman Larsen introduced the School Safety Act, which would reauthorize the Secure Our Schools program. In 2016, Congressman Larsen also started the School Safety Caucus to provide a forum for Congress to figure out the best ways for schools to approach their safety needs, and to push for investments in security and other safety measures.

Text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano,

Thank you for your work to appropriate resources to support our nation's priorities. As you begin to draft the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, we respectfully urge you to include $150 million in funding for the Secure Our Schools (SOS) grant program, one of the Community Policing Services (COPS) programs.

As Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stated, "We as a country failed our children. This shouldn't happen. . . . And we need to come together as a country and work on what's important. And that's protecting our children in the schools."

Drills and trainings to prepare schools for horrific situations like we saw in Parkland, Newtown, and Marysville are part of everyday life for students and teachers across the country. Kids should be focused on learning instead of worrying about their personal safety in their classroom. No child should ever feel unsafe while going to school and we must give them the peace of mind they deserve. It is our duty to stand up for these kids and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.

In 2002-2011, SOS grants provided funding to state, local, and tribal governments to develop school safety resources. The funds may be used for physical security measures, such as metal detectors, locks, and lighting; for security training of personnel and students; and for coordinating with local law enforcement. These competitively awarded match grants will help ensure that our schools have the resources they need to keep students safe.

Thank you again for your work on the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. We respectfully urge you to include $150 million for the SOS grant program to protect our nation's children.

cc: The Honorable Paul. D Ryan, Speaker
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader