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Lawmaker Plans To Propose School Safety Referendum Option

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Sen. Travis Holdman says a school safety referendum option for schools could help focus those dollars. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Schools could have another option to fund safety measures if a state lawmaker gets his way, by creating a new avenue for schools to seek support from their local taxpayers.

Earlier this month, state Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) announced plans to file legislation that would add another funding option for schools: school safety referenda on local ballots.

Schools can already use money from operations referenda for safety costs, and several districts with referenda on the ballot in May included safety and security in their proposals. But Holdman says a school safety specific proposal would focus those efforts.

“It focuses specifically on school safety so that other issues and other projects can’t get co-mingled with that or mixed up in that,” he says.

The state gives districts options to fund security or safety measures, but Holdman says it’s not enough, even with so much focus on the issue lately – and a move by lawmakers earlier this year to make more money available for those programs.

“I think folks are coming to realize we just have to be a little more careful in what environment we place out children in to care for them,” he says.

A press release announcing Holdman’s plans outlined what some of the school safety referenda funds could be used for. The money could go toward hiring school resource officers or mental health professionals; supporting professional development programs or others focused on mental health, addiction or anger management; and improving building security.

Schools would need to include the funding in their safety plans, and consult law enforcement and conduct public hearings on how to use that money.

Holdman says if his bill makes it through the next legislative session, schools could propose safety referenda as early as fall 2019.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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