With approval of the state budget, the Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force has released that an overview of its plans to spend $60 million assigned to “strengthen security and mental health services in schools.”
The task force was formed earlier this year by Gov. Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. It took into account feedback from residents across the state and officials from government, education organizations, law enforcement, school officials, teachers, parents, and students.
The task force used the feedback to find the following themes:
- Improved communication and information sharing
- Enhanced social and emotional learning
- Increased access to mental health services, including more health professionals in schools
- Building community connections
- Effectively integrating law enforcement and school resource officers
- Providing guidance on establishing priorities for schools
- Providing schools with more resources
The recently-approved budget will open school grants to cover physical building upgrades, security equipment, violence prevention education programs, teacher training, alternative education programs, and special, and individualized mentoring programs, according to Wolf’s office.
It will also fund three Pennsylvania State Police Risk and Vulnerability Teams to help schools undergo security and safety assessments.
In addition, the state will create a confidential tip line that will allow students and teachers to report threats and potentially dangerous situations or people that involve schools.
“This new money aligns with the themes we heard during the task force and will help address the needs of school districts by providing an immediate infusion of funds, so our schools can increase security while creating programs that meet the safety needs of their schools and communities,”” Wolf said.
A full report on the task force’s findings will be released later this summer.