WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) co-sponsored the Safe Schools Act, legislation to allow unused COVID relief dollars allocated to schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be used by schools to protect themselves with physical security measures, such as locks, panic buttons, individual room security systems, video surveillance, and hiring and paying the salaries of armed school resource officers. The legislation will exempt expenses for school security improvements from current ESSER guidelines that require expenses to be related to COVID-19.
“Every child deserves to feel safe and secure at school and should never fear for their lives,” said Senator Tillis. “The tragedy in Uvalde should never happen again. During the COVID pandemic, school systems across the country received more than $180 billion in COVID relief dollars, and $150 billion of that has yet to be used, so this legislation will allocate unused funds for these necessary security measures. I am proud to introduce this commonsense legislation and I hope to see this bill gain bipartisan support.”
- The North Carolina Department of Education has only spent $1.7 billion of the $5.6 billion funds awarded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
- Nationwide, of the $189.5 billion of COVID money awarded under ESSER, State Education Agencies have yet to spend $150.1 billion (79.2%).
- There were 67 disrupted plots against K-12 schools from 2006-2018 – 66% of the schools had no system for alerting officials to concerning or threatening.
- Recommendations from the Trump Administration’s 2018, “Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety” included:
- School security strategies should use a layered approach that incorporates multiple, reinforcing echelons of policy, programs, and protective measures.
- Entry control measures limit the number of access points, allow access only to those who should be on the campus, and provide an opportunity to conduct searches of suspicious items or persons.
- Schools can implement security measures such as fencing, bollards, planters, curbs, or walls to create a single point of entry to the campus.
- Video surveillance is a valuable security measure for entry control.