Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday released a new school safety plan, which recommends $20 million to help schools upgrade their security and calls for a permanent Safe Schools Commission to review plans each year.
"Recent tragedies taking place in schools nationwide have escalated emotions and driven some people to entrench upon a single position," Snyder said in a news release. "But there is no one simple solution to solve this terrible problem and prevent it from ever happening again."
Snyder's plan includes 18 initiatives. Among them:
- $18 million in fiscal year 2019 for school safety grants that will allow school leaders to strengthen buildings, improve lock systems and upgrade communications
- $2 million in the current fiscal year for schools that require basic security upgrades, such as functioning, locking doors
- Schools would have to submit incident reports to law enforcement
- Schools would develop comprehensive safety plans that would include behavioral health policies, student reporting mechanisms, emergency response and building safety requirements
- A temporary school safety task force would make recommendations before the end of this year to launch Snyder's initiatives and make additional recommendations. A permanent Safe Schools Commission would be created to review and help update the state's school safety plan every year
- School teachers, administrators and other school personnel would be trained to identify when students are in need of mental or emotional counseling and support
- The state would pilot a $2 million grant program for intermediate school districts to offer behavioral assessment training for their administrative and academic teams
- The Michigan Council on Law Enforcement Standards would be directed to create a tiered training program for school resource officers. The organization would also be directed to develop a standard for active violence response training for police officers
Snyder said in the release that a "multifaceted approach," is the best way to ensure stable learning environments for Michigan students while also protecting them.
Snyder's plan is the latest initiative to be proposed in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and adults dead.
Democrats in the Michigan Senate recently introduced legislation that would commit $100 million in school safety measures. Half would go toward grants for more counselors, social workers and school resources officers for schools. The other half would be in grants for safety measures in schools, such as single points of entry, surveillance cameras and advance technology that could do things like have panic buttons on phones that could warn an entire school about an active shooter.
There have also been recommendations proposed from law enforcement leaders.
The news release noted that Snyder himself survived a school shooting. It happened in the early 1980s when he was a student at the University of Michigan, said Ari Adler, a spokesman for the governor.
Adler said the governor doesn't speak much publicly about the shooting. But he said that Snyder was in a dorm where the shooting occurred "and came very close to being a shooting victim."
"He understands the tragedy and the trauma of such an event and relies on that personal knowledge when reviewing proposals and discussing options for meaningful action," Adler said.
Snyder's proposal doesn't include so-called "red flag" legislation that would allow authorities to take guns away from unstable individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others and restricting access to assault rifles. He has previously said those are issues worth examining.
Adler said the "red flag" legislation and gun-control measures are part of a "whole series of proposals around guns that are very polarizing."
"Sometimes, if you put things all out at once, the good and easy stuff gets left behind while the focus turns to controversial issues that don’t make headway," Adler said.
Snyder, he said, believes that by proposing things that "we can get 80% to 100% agreement on by themselves, then we have a better chance of doing something meaningful to protect students and teachers now."
"In the meantime, we can and will continue having discussions around the other proposals, but in a separate conversation," Adler said.
Staff writer Kathleen Gray contributed to this story. Contact Lori Higgins: 313-222-6651, firstname.lastname@example.org or @LoriAHiggins
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.