NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The excitement on a child’s face as the first day of a new school year approaches is mirrored by concern on the face of the student’s parents.
Governor Bill Lee is trying to ease that concern by leading a $40 million-dollar initiative to make Tennessee schools safer. The governor emphasized it in his first State of the State address, saying, “Whatever else happens in the classroom, the safety of our children and teachers is paramount for my administration and for all of our elected leaders.”
The governor pointed to 500 Tennessee schools that do not have school resource officers (SROs) and the need to change that.
“For that reason, I am asking the legislature to join with me to fund an additional $30 million investment in our school safety fund and to prioritize the districts with schools who currently have no school resource officers on duty,” he said.
The state legislature agreed and approved $40 million to a school safety grant fund created last year by then-Governor Bill Haslam.
Besides SROs, school districts can also use the funds for securing entry and exit areas of buildings, staff training and other school safety enhancements.
There is also a requirement for all 147 public school districts in Tennessee to undergo a safety assessment. Already a broad report from those assessments discovered vulnerable areas in surveillance at schools, as well as unrestricted access to some buildings and vehicles.
The governor thanked state lawmakers for approving the $40 million that will pay the costs for Tennessee schools to become more secure.
“Together, we can make sure every school is a safer place for our children,” Lee said.
News 2 is digging deeper into evolving safety plans in school districts across Middle Tennessee.
We have special reports all day Thursday in every newscast that focus on classroom safety, keeping buses and school zones safer, and new initiatives to crack down on inappropriate relationships between students and teachers.