By Bob Katzen
A group including Education Secretary James Peyser, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Public Safety and Security Secretary Daniel Bennett, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley joined Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at a School Safety Roundtable to discuss Baker’s recently-filed $72 million School Safety Package. Mental health experts, police chiefs and school superintendents joined the discussion.
The proposal includes training of first responders to better handle threats within schools; $40 million in additional aid to school districts to hire social workers, mental health counselors and psychologists; $20 million in matching state grants for security and communications upgrades in K-12 schools and public colleges and universities, the training of first responders; $2.4 million to create a tip line to provide public safety and school personnel with timely information on potential risks; $2 million for a statewide “Say Something” campaign; and $500,000 to create a school safety website.
“These proposals will allow schools to hire additional mental health professionals to increase support for our students, while also making important security upgrades.” said Baker. “We look forward to working with the Legislature to enact this package to make the commonwealth’s schools safer.
“The sad reality is that we have to think about protecting our students and teachers from the threat of gun violence in the classroom,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “By strengthening student supports, as well as upgrading security measures and training for school personnel, we hope to reduce the possibility that we could experience a tragedy like other communities across the country have suffered.”