Gov. Whitmer to sign $14 million school safety bill

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign a bill Friday, which would distribute $14 million to all Michigan schools to fund critical incident planning in case of an emergency.

House Bill 6012 also funds resources to hire and retain mental health professionals, enhance security measures, and provide additional learning opportunities for Oxford Community Schools.

“I am proud to sign this bill to help keep students safe. This bill represents a true collaboration between the legislature, my office, community members, and school leadership to make sure our schools have the tools they need to protect students in cases of school shootings or other critical incidents,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Today we are also proud to deliver necessary resources to Oxford Community Schools so they can hire more mental health staff and offer additional learning time to their students as they recover from the horrific shooting last year.”

The legislation includes a total of $14 million awarded to all schools, including traditional public, intermediate school districts, and private schools, for $2,000 grants to complete a comprehensive safety and security assessment.

The Department of Education will administer the grants.

The bill aims to hire mental health professionals, enhancing security, and offer additional learning time to Oxford students.

“We carefully listened to the needs expressed by Oxford and worked with them to provide the tools they need to recover from the lasting impact of the tragedy that students, staff and the building itself withstood,” bill sponsor and former teacher Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Twp., said in a statement. “This funding plan will help obtain and retain mental health professionals necessary to help with trauma response, help cover legal and public relations costs, provide enhanced security features, cover costs for damage to school property during the shooting, and more.”

However, State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said schools still need more money.

“This new law provides needed funding for Oxford schools, as well as important funding for risk assessments and critical incidence mapping,” Rice said in a statement. “That said, we still have more work in front of us: the need for the legislature to support the governor’s FY 23 budget request of a $361 million increase in children’s mental health and $51 million for school safety grants; and the need for greater gun safety, including a red flag law and other measures to reduce the likelihood that guns will fall into the hands of those who are dangerous to themselves or others.”