INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana lawmaker wants to use $50 million in federal funds to strengthen school security.
For many school leaders, keeping students safe is constantly top of mind.
“Every time any incident happens, whether it’s Uvalde, or whether it’s at the Greenwood Park Mall, or whether it’s anything that’s close or anything that gets news, that heightens our fears,” said Derek Arrowood, superintendent for the Hamilton Heights School Corporation.
Arrowood said each of his district’s buildings has one school resource officer. Right now, half of their pay is funded by the state, and about $50,000 per year in district funds covers the rest, he said.
“And then at night we’re asking them to do what our administrators do as well, which is cover athletic events, and they have a presence at those things and that’s additional funding as well,” Arrowood said.
If he had more funds available, Arrowood said, he would potentially add another SRO as well as security upgrades to his buildings and more counseling services.
“Even when we do relatively innocuous safety drills, there’s challenges for kids with heightened social issues, with emotional issues,” he said. “And so how are we supporting that?”
A program proposed by State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) would award schools grants for those purposes.
“We need to make sure that our children are not worried about going to school and school safety,” Porter said.
Porter said he wants to allocate $50 million toward the program using Indiana’s remaining federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. He plans to ask the state budget committee for approval later this summer.
“The American Rescue Plan dollars, it’s $190 million left in regards to those dollars,” Porter said. “Why aren’t we utilizing those dollars?”
We’ve reached out to Republican lawmakers on the budget committee and are still waiting to hear back.
The state has until 2024 to decide how it will commit its remaining American Rescue Plan funds, according to officials.