LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer announced $25 million will be used to fund safety officers in schools.
195 school districts and public school academies have been chosen to receive the funding during the next three years.
It’s said to improve the safety and security of more than 334,000 students in the state.
Michigan education officials say while it’s a good first step more needs to be done.
The grants will pave the way for 200 more school resource officers in the state.
The money will be used to support their salaries, benefits and training.
“They would be a deputy within the department and spend the majority of their time in the school district… I think gives peace of mind to a lot of parents and to the teachers in that building,” said Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards Don Wotruba.
Michigan school officials say that the new announcement is a great step for security.
However, mental health is a whole other issue. One that extends beyond the school’s boundaries.
“You can create a fortress within a school, but you’re not really solving the core problem. Which is mental health among our students, which is easy access to guns for kids,” said Thomas Morgan, the spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association.
While there is much work to be done outside the districts government leaders say it can be hard to tackle that part of the issue.
“Parental involvement is the biggest piece of the puzzle, and unfortunately that isn’t something that we at the state legislative level honestly have a whole lot of control over,” said Luke Meerman, co-chair of the Michigan House of Representatives School Safety Taskforce.
But they do control some things.
“Things like universal background checks, safe storage requirements, red flag laws… We are optimistic that the new legislature, and the governor, will pass common sense gun legislation to keep guns out of the hands of kids,” said Morgan.
But for now, the addition of officers in schools is welcome, and will hopefully spark more change to come.
“It still won’t mean that every school will have one, so more work there, we are still well below the national average in school counselors, let’s work on that,” said Wotruba.
Michigan State Police said they prioritized smaller schools in remote areas to receive the grants as it will reduce the time it takes for a police response in the event of an emergency.