Minnesota Governor proposes $21 million for school safety improvements
MINNESOTA — Governor Mark Dayton is willing to spend $21 million to improve school safety in Minnesota..
Dayton's "Safe and Secure Schools Act" includes building improvements and more resource officers for schools across the state, but administrators say the real security enhancement will be the money going towards mental health — an issue that closely follows school violence.
The proposal would provide nearly $16 million to "enhance safety," and another $5 million for school-based mental health grants.
"It's obviously really important that we do a better job as a society of identifying people in need, people who are isolated, people prone to acting out," says Dayton.
Hawley principal, Mike Martin, agrees, having experienced that conversation before.
"If you went to any meeting anywhere in the state where principals were gathered and brought up the topic of mental health issues, they're all going to tune in pretty quickly, because it's impacting us pretty significantly right now," says Martin.
The act includes new resources for secured entrances and bulletproof glass.
It would also require school districts to ensure expelled students remain eligible for school-based mental health grants until they enroll in a new district.
Administrators say access to counseling will help students develop better relationships with their classmates, which will make the whole school safer.
"They need to understand that when they come to school, they don't need to hang out with everybody in school, but they need to get along with everybody," says Martin. "I tell them my dream is to have a school where every day every student walks through our doors and feels accepted for the way they are, and if they do that, we'll have the coolest school anywhere."
The act would also clarify the responsibility of schools to complete a threat assessment before expelling students, and require school districts to ensure expelled students are progressing with alternative educations.