The State needs to Fully Fund Public School Safety Needs

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On December 13, the State Board of Education will consider the Department of Education recommendations for close to 400 school safety grant applications for either new counselors, school resource officers, or social workers.

According to reporting from AZ Central, the schools that received grant funding recommendations will be able to provide for “148 counselors, 118 social workers, and 116 school police officers.”

Unfortunately, due to only a 20 million dollar grant pool of money to pull from, approximately 400 schools were not able to be get needed funding.

One of those was Wilson Elementary School, located at 30th street near Van Buren in Phoenix.

The school serves a high need population and is located in a high-risk area of Phoenix. They applied for a school resource/police officer because other grant funding had dried out and the school has not been able to provide the needed staff for two years.

Fortunately, Governor Ducey and his team, moved by the report of Wilson’s situation by the Arizona Republic, has asked the Department of Education staff that Wilson receive consideration with the other recommended schools at the State Board of Education meeting on December 13.

While the Governor did right by Wilson Elementary, there are still 400 schools, most with vital school safety needs, in the state that did not have an advocate supplying news accounts to AZ Central to get the Governor’s attention.

What about them?

This situation has reconfirmed what leaders like Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has said that the $20 million school safety grant pool was insufficient to meet all the state public school’s safety needs.

With the state enjoying a record budget surplus, the Governor should expand on his spirit of generosity and ask the State Legislature when it comes back into session in January to expand funding for all the schools that have legitimate school safety concerns and to find a permanent financing mechanism so educators do not have to come begging every year for a new grant.

Children’s safety is an issue that should unite all public servants.

The Governor, Department of Education, and State Legislators should work together in finding a permanent solution to this and other issues facing the state’s K-12 students.