After school shootings, are states making classrooms safer?

The shooting last May that killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, prompted pledges from governors in several states to make classrooms safer.

But their tracking speed varies.

Here’s a look at where school safety plans stand in several states as students head back to school.


After the Uvalde shooting, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson reinstated a school safety commission he formed after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. The committee is expected to issue its final recommendations in October. The Legislature in August approved $50 million for a school safety grant program. Grants will be based on the committee’s recommendations, and rules are being drawn up on how the funds will be distributed.


In California, which already had some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a dozen more this legislative session. He also took out ads in Texas newspapers criticizing the state’s positions on guns. In July Newsom signed a gun control bill based on a Texas anti-abortion law, allowing private individuals to sue to enforce the restrictions.


Lawmakers included $10 million in the budget for a school safety fund that was established in 2018 but had not received money in the past two fiscal years. Lawmakers also approved bipartisan legislation expanding the allowable uses of the school security fund to include lockdown drills, school threat assessments, prevention training and hiring law enforcement personnel. The bill was introduced in late April, before Uvalde’s shooting, and initially proposed only to allow the hiring of police officers with money from the treasury. The legislation did not receive a committee hearing until after Uvalde’s shooting, and Democratic Gov. John Carney has yet to sign the bill, which received final approval in late June.


The Florida Legislature passed a bill in March that makes changes to the school safety law passed after the 2018 shooting at a Parkland high school that killed 17 people. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on June 7. The bill signed by DeSantis directs the state Board of Education to adopt requirements for emergency drills, requires law enforcement to participate in school active shooter drills, and requires school districts to certify 80 percent of school staff in gun awareness training. the mental health of young people.


Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, announced in June that the state is giving $2.6 million to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to increase training capacity and courses for school resources. He said the state will use $1 million in federal money to boost school safety efforts, including staff training and school resources. Local and state law enforcement agencies will be able to compete for $4.5 million in grants for school safety, use-of-force and de-escalation training and mental health needs. The state is also seeking $3 million in federal grants to increase training and improve school climate.


Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill in August that requires the state’s nearly 600 school districts to establish threat assessment teams aimed at curbing school violence. The bill requiring the assessments was introduced two days after Uvalde was shot. The measure takes effect in the 2023-2024 school year.


Three days after the Uvalde shooting, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would use $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for school security upgrades. In August, he announced that more than 1,100 schools were awarded $47 million of that money for upgrades such as security cameras, automatic door locks, visitor signage systems and exterior lighting. The remaining $53 million will be distributed to schools that apply in the future.


Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order a month after the Uvalde shooting aimed at helping prepare schools and law enforcement for mass shootings. Directs law enforcement officers to complete active shooter training. It also calls on the Oklahoma School Safety Institute to provide risk assessments to every public and private elementary and secondary school in the state. The order also directs school districts by September to use the Rave Panic Button, a phone app that allows teachers and staff to immediately notify law enforcement and other staff members of an emergency.


In Pennsylvania’s budget this year, lawmakers allocated $200 million to address school safety and mental health, with $200,000 in base funding for each district to be split evenly between safety and mental health. Funding for mental health is new to the budget this year. Funding was first created for safety and security grants in 2018 after the Parkland shooting. The money historically has been used to upgrade security — including adding cameras, secure entrances and staffing to school buildings.


Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed an executive order in June calling for more school safety training and resources. He has said his government will boost funding for schools and law enforcement in the fall. Earlier this month, ahead of the new school year, Lee also encouraged parents to download a “SafeTN” app so they can confidentially report suspicious activity to schools.


After the Uvalde shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Republican leaders announced a transfer of $105.5 million for school safety initiatives. Nearly half of that money was for bullet-resistant shields and $17.1 million for districts to buy silent panic warning technology. The state also allocated $7 million for the state’s school safety center to conduct on-site assessments.


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The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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