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Maryland bill to double school safety spending heads to committee

Doubling school safety spending is the focus of a Maryland bill that is in the hands of the Appropriations Committee.

House Bill 613, sponsored by Delegate Mike Griffith, R-Harford, would double the state’s appropriation for the Safe Schools Fund to $20 million. The bill will be heard during Tuesday’s 1 p.m. meeting of the Appropriations Committee.

Griffith’s bill, if enacted, would go into effect beginning in fiscal year 2024.

The bill would allow school districts to apply for a larger collection of grant funds that would be used to hire school resource officers or acquire adequate local law enforcement coverage that would be supplied to the high school to increase safety.

Griffith said his bill is an extension of legislation passed in 2018, following school shootings around the nation, that is designed to help protect students and schools from such incidents.

“The $10 million was huge,” Griffth said, “and we want to build upon that by pushing the funding to $20 million.”

Griffith said that not every school in the state has a school resource officer, and that many in the county he resides in do not have officers in place.

“The $10 million scratches the surface of the need,” Griffth said.

Griffith said with the state sitting on a projected $4.6 billion surplus there is extra money in the state’s coffers to fund the bill.

The legislator said there are some opponents to the bill who are concerned about the effectiveness of school resource officers.

“Some concerns are that some people consider school resources officers as part of the schools to prison issue and local law enforcement wants to be more flexible in spending,” Griffth said. “My pushback has been arrest data. That data has been pretty steady going back to 2015-16. The arrest data was higher than it is right now when the bill was passed.

“If the numbers were bad for the school arrest data when the General Assembly unanimously moved this forward – what has changed? Has the data changed?”

Griffith said districts would be able to apply for the funds through the Department of Education.

“We want to trust those departments to make sure [the funds] are appropriated the same way,” Griffith said.

This article was originally posted on Maryland bill to double school safety spending heads to committee

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