Kentucky Legislature Grapples With High Costs of School Safety Bill
After signing school safety legislation into law, the legislature must now find the millions of dollars necessary to fund more counselors and school resource officers in a tight budget.
- By Haley Samsel
- January 08, 2020
Kentucky legislators heralded the passage of a school safety bill last year that provides districts with funding for more counselors, school resource officers and other resources to support students facing traumatic experiences.
But, while the bill was signed into law last spring, the legislature is still struggling to find the money necessary to fund the expansion of mental health and security improvements, according to The Bowling Green Daily News.
Representatives will have to sort out the issue as they craft a two-year state budget during the new session, which began Tuesday. The funding for the bill could be in jeopardy as Kentucky faces a potential budget shortfall of over $1 billion.
Education leaders say they are confident that lawmakers will make school safety a priority in the new budget. Jim Flynn, the leader of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents told the Daily News that the organization is working with the Kentucky School Boards Association to make the case to lawmakers about the high costs of paying for counselors and facility upgrades over the course of several years.
“Many superintendents are concerned about the facility improvements and having a funding stream to make those happen,” Flynn said.
Read More: Health Researcher Says Kentucky Is Not Doing Enough for School Safety through Senate Bill 1
To comply with the measures laid out in the legislation, school districts across the state would be on the hook for at least $121 million more each year, according to an estimate from the Kentucky School Boards Association. That doesn’t include the expected $18 million cost for security improvements to school buildings.
“KSBA and other education groups will continue to advocate for adequate state funding of our public schools, including monies designated for school safety,” Joshua Shoulta, director of communications for the KSBA, told the Daily News.
The call for more school safety funding comes as Kentucky schools have already been forced to cut school transportation costs, preschool services, textbooks and teacher training.
Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.