New Pa. school safety funding on track for March 2019

Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf announcing the creation of a new School Safety Task Force in Montgomery County in March 2018. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

Pennsylvania state lawmakers say they’re awaiting feedback from the state’s 500 school districts and 300 private school entities before they can disburse the first wave of funding to improve school safety. They expect to distribute the money by March 2019.

The funds are part of Act 44, a bipartisan bill signed into law in the months after the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.

The bill allocates $60 million for school security funding. Each school district will get at least $25,000 during the 2018-2019 school year, said State Senator Wayne Langerholc, R-Bedford. Districts can apply for additional funding as needed.

“I’m certain that a decent amount of that money will go to the mental health component, for guidance counselors [and] licensed social workers,” he said.

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Though improved mental health resources are a key part of the plan, needs will vary from one district to another, said State Senator Mike Regan, R-Cumberland. Deterrents like metal detectors, keycode devices and bulletproof glass are some of the security measures districts may request.

It is possible firearms or firearms training for teachers could be approved for funding if schools seek it.

Categories for funding include: safety and security assessments, conflict resolution and dispute management, school-based diversion programs, training, security planning, and additional school resource officers, counselors, social workers, and psychologists.

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