Governor Haslam proposes $30 million to improve school safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —School shootings like the ones in Maryland and Florida have Tennessee’s governor and lawmakers taking action.

Governor Bill Haslam is proposing an amendment to the 2018-2019 budget which would include an additional $30 million to improve school safety.

What that looks like

“Our children deserve to learn in a safe and secure environment and I’ve asked the working group to make specific recommendations on school safety measures,” Haslam said. “These additional school safety funds, which include doubling the current amount of recurring funding we have through our school safety grants, will provide our schools with additional resources to meet their specific needs.”

Proposed by Governor Haslam the money would pay for campus safety measures. The list of options is being worked out by a governor-appointed group that includes state representative David Byrd.

“There are several recommendations that it could be used for,” Byrd said. “Surveillance cameras, you know, metal detectors.”

Hiring armed school resource officers is also on the table.

In a release Tuesday, the governor said the funding includes $25 million in nonrecurring safety grants. An additional $5.2 million will be recurring.

These grants would come with strings attached. Any school district awarded one would have to match 20 percent of the funds.

Keith Williams with the Memphis Shelby County Education Association says Shelby County Schools have enough security. He’d prefer the district spend money on improving curriculum.

“We do want to be safe but we do want to also provide a quality education to children,” Williams said.

In addition to security upgrades programs for mental health might be funded, a good idea to Williams.

“Violence is a behavior. It’s something psychiatrists and psychologists probably could solve in children,” Williams said.

The general assembly would have to approve the governor’s proposal. Supporters say it’s crucial to preventing what happened in Florida and Maryland from happening in Tennessee.

Recent shooting

Earlier this month, the governor tasked a School Safety Working Group with reviewing safety procedures at schools across the states. They are expected to return their recommendations for improvements in the next couple of days.

The news comes just hours after a shooting in Maryland injured three students at Great Mills High School.

According to CNN, there have been numerous school shootings since the beginning of the year.

The parameters CNN followed in this case:

  • A shooting that involved at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
  • A shooting that occurred on school grounds
  • We included grades K through college/university level
  • We included gang violence, fights and domestic violence
  • We included accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met

(The list doesn’t include Tuesday’s incident in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, because we don’t yet know if it resulted in injuries.)

March 13: Seaside, California

A teacher accidentally discharged a gun during a public safety class at Seaside High School, injuring a student.

March 8: Mobile, Alabama

One person was hospitalized after a shooting at an apartment building on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

March 7: Birmingham, Alabama

One student was killed and another critically wounded after an accidental shooting during dismissal time at Huffman High School. Police wouldn’t elaborate further.

March 7: Jackson, Mississippi

A student was shot inside a dormitory at Jackson State University. His injuries were not life-threatening.

March 2: Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Two people were shot to death at a dormitory on the campus of Central Michigan University. The victims were not students and police think the incident stemmed from a domestic situation.

February 27: Norfolk, Virginia

A student at Norfolk State University was shot from an adjacent dorm room while he was doing homework. He was not seriously injured.

February 27: Itta Bena, Mississippi

A person was shot in a rec center at Mississippi Valley State University. Police said the person was not a student and the injury was not life-threatening.

February 24: Savannah, Georgia

A person was shot on the campus of Savannah State University and taken to a nearby hospital where he later died. Neither the victim nor the shooter were university students, the college said.

February 14: Parkland, Florida

A 19-year-old man gunned down students and staff with a rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, slaughtering at least 17 unsuspecting students and adults. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from the high school over disciplinary problems, officials said.

February 9: Nashville

A high school student was shot five times in the parking lot of Pearl-Cohn High School.

February 5: Oxon Hill, Maryland

A high school student was shot in the parking lot of Oxon Hill High. The victim was treated and later released. Police arrested two teens and said they are acquaintances of the victim.

February 1: Los Angeles

A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head and a 15-year-old girl shot in the wrist at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, officials said. Two other students were grazed by bullets. A 12-year-old girl was booked for negligent discharge of a firearm in that shooting, which was considered “unintentional,” Los Angeles police said.

January 31: Philadelphia

A fight led to a shooting in the parking lot of Lincoln High School, fatally wounding a 32-year-old man.

January 23: Benton, Kentucky

A 15-year-old student shot 16 people — killing two other 15-year-olds — at Marshall County High School, authorities said. The student faces two charges of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault.

January 22: Italy, Texas

A 15-year-old student was wounded in a shooting at a high school in Italy, Texas, authorities said. The suspect, also 15, was quickly apprehended.

January 20: Winston Salem, North Carolina

A Winston-Salem State University football player, Najee Ali Baker, was shot to death at a party on the campus of Wake Forest University.