Common Sense Approach to Improving Student Safety
In the wake of the horrific events in Parkland, Florida, schools across the country are working to ensure student safety. The New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO) urges the Governor and Legislature to implement the following measures to protect New York schoolchildren.
- Make NY Safe Act enhanced funding for security upgrades permanent. The NY Safe Act promotes school safety by allowing security devices like reinforced entry systems, cameras, and metal detectors eligible for building aid. Recent state budgets increased aid for security upgrades by 10 percent to encourage school districts to install these measures. This enhanced funding should be made permanent rather than subject to annual appropriation.
- Pass legislation (S.2946/A.8327) that would allow school districts to hire retired police officers as School Resource Officers (SROs) without needing an SED waiver to exceed the $30,000 salary cap. This would help every school have access to well-qualified school resource officers.
- Expedite the approval process for Building Aid for capital projects and Smart Schools Bond Act funding by providing additional funding and civil service exemptions for SED to hire additional professional staff to meet the demand.
- Make Community Schools Aid a separate categorical aid to supplement Foundation Aid to be used for mental health and social service support. This would allow Foundation Aid to be unrestricted while ensuring Community Schools Aid is targeted to these critical areas of need. Increased funding for a separate Community Schools categorical aid should allow all schools to provide mental health services.
- Exempt security expenditures from the property tax cap. The vast majority of school districts across the state adopt tax cap compliant budgets, which limits their ability to raise local revenue. Because student safety is a pressing issue, exempting local spending from the tax cap would allow school districts to invest in school security while still complying with the tax cap.
Student safety is the number one priority for school districts. It has become evident that schools need increased security measures, however, which come at a cost. The state must partner with schools by identifying funding streams to support School Resource Officers and other ongoing security measures. These proposals identify ways that school districts can make meaningful, timely contributions to student safety and how the state can help school districts meet the fiscal challenges for these safety measures.