Restored funding puts Indiana school safety first

(South Bend) Tribune

Just a few months after signing a budget that slashed funding for school safety programs, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence reversed course, announcing he would increase funding available by an additional $3.5 million.

The move increases the total funding available this year to $9 million.

In announcing the boost, Pence noted in a statement that “We have no higher priority than to ensure the security of our children and faculty at our schools.”

The governor had expressed a similar sentiment two years ago in signing the school safety law that provided school corporations with matching state grants to hire school resource officers. Legislators were right to draft the bipartisan law that created a seven-member Indiana Secured Safety Board to distribute a maximum of $20 million in school safety grants and develop a “best practices” for safe schools.

The first round of matching grants, totaling $9.1 million, went out in late 2013. In mid-2014, the second round of grants, totaling $9.2 million, was awarded. About $5 million of that went to equipment and $4 million to school resource officers.

Given the general consensus on the need for the legislation, it was disheartening, to say the least, when the budget ax fell. The cuts, which took effect in July, had left less than half the money to distribute than when the program started.

The governor’s change of heart is welcome news indeed. He cited this month’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in announcing his amending the budget cut.

Pence is correct to place a high priority on school safety concerns. The need to maintain funding for this purpose is as clear today as it was two years ago when the law was passed with some emphasis. The deadly shootings in Oregon serve as a tragic reminder for anyone who thinks otherwise.

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