HARRISBURG – June 27, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today said that the state budget package includes $60 million for school district safety initiatives.
“There are a great many needs to fill in helping school district improve safety and security for students, teachers, administrators and all who enter school buildings,” Brewster said. “The funding will enable even more local school safety projects to be completed.”
Brewster, a member of the Senate Education Committee, also serves as the Senate Democratic appointee to the statewide School Safety and Security Committee that was established within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The funding for the school safety grants were included as a part of the state’s Fiscal Code (Senate Bill 712) legislation.
“In our first year of the safety grants, we made some strides in completing safety surveys and finding out needs in school districts throughout the state,” Brewster said. “The funds that are included in this budget package will enable the committee to take even more projects on and channel state resources to better protect children.”
The McKeesport lawmaker has long been a strong advocate of increased school safety. In previous sessions of the General Assembly, he prime-sponsored legislation to establish a school safety committee and require new school construction to include school safety and security upgrades.
This session, Brewster authored comprehensive legislation designed to address three critical aspects of school safety. His measure would require state resources to be distributed to all school districts according to the results of the baseline survey. The baseline survey would delineate school security needs based on statewide standards.
Under his legislation, funding would be made available for school building upgrades, mental health services and environmental cleanup.
“We can do more to identify and address school security needs, but we must acknowledge that a robust school security plan has to include more elements than facility upgrades,” Brewster said. “Improving the access to professional mental health services and removing lead pipes and paint, cleaning air and repairing school buildings up to a state standard are crucial to safety and security of children.”
Brewster said other changes were made to the School Safety and Security Committee as a part of the budget package. This includes adding members of the committee who have background in behavioral health or trauma approaches and altering the amount of grants available to schools.