Lawmakers announced on Thursday more specifics about the state budget, saying that the plan for the budget includes millions in funding for school safety initiatives.
The investment is part of a comprehensive plan to invest in protecting students in North Carolina classrooms.
As the state budget process goes forward more and more detail is coming out about the roughly $24 billion in expenditures for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
The budget proposal includes $12 million for the school resource officer grant program, which is a $5 million increase from past funding.
The funds are up as a match for local funds where the state pays in $2 for every dollar of local funding spent.
The proposal also includes $10 million in mental health grants for personnel, $5 million for an app for students to be able to warn officials about situations that could become dangerous, $3 million each for school safety equipment grants and mental health training for school employees, and $2 million for community partners to provide mental health-related grants for students in crisis.
Legislative leaders say the recommendations provide more mental health opportunities for students, better preparation for threats and more resource officers in school systems across the state.
“We are focused not only on immediate needs to protect our children from attackers, but preventing crises from arising with a proactive approach,” Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), a co-chair of the state House Select Committee on School Safety, said.
The proposals include more mental health opportunities in school systems like counseling and peer-to-peer programs for students.
“We need to do more and we will do more to keep our children safe, and this is an important first step in the right direction,” Sen. Ron Rabin (R-Harnett), Senate Chairman of the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee, said.
Adding more resource officers to North Carolina schools is a priority in lawmakers’ comprehensive plan released Thursday, legislators said.
“We had a consensus view that more personnel was needed in our schools to increase safety,” Rep. Josh Dobson, chairman of the school safety subcommittee on mental health, said.
Twice since March school resource officers have been reported to have stopped two school shootings, one in Maryland in March and one last week in Illinois.
No students died in either shooting.
In the budget proposal the $10 million would go to hire more school nurses and psychologists, but that could also be used as funding for more school resource officers.
“These investments begin the process of providing our state the necessary resources to safeguard our children’s mental and physical health,” Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), a co-chair of the state House Select Committee on School Safety, said.
House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said that lawmakers listened to school safety experts in designing the reforms to ensure a safe learning environment where students and teachers can thrive.
“We share the public’s sense of urgency to keep our kids as safe as possible in schools,” Moore said. “Lawmakers remain vigilant to improve classroom safety by every means available.”