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Obama's School Safety Plan Gives Millions to Local Districts

Stratford school official says the funds from a proposed federal program are needed to invest 'in the area of school design and redesign to improve building security' at local schools.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to pass legislation that would provide millions of dollars for local school districts like Stratford to invest in school safety.

A White House statement released Wednesday details Obama's plans to make schools safer one month after a mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school killed 20 students and six educators, including Stratford's Victoria Soto.

The section on school safety is part of Obama's larger proposal that seeks to reduce gun violence throughout the country.

The Obama Administration is calling for the formation of a Comprehensive School Safety program that would give some $150 million to local school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, counselors, psychologists and mental health professionals; and invest in strategies to develop and update school safety plans.

"I would agree that school districts need to see more funding in the area of school design and redesign to improve building security," Stratford Board of Education Chairman Gavin Forrester told Patch in an email Wednesday.

The White House statement said the Department of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services in May will release "a set of model, high-quality emergency management plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education, along with best practices for developing these plans and training students and staff to follow them."

Obama is also asking Congress to provide an additional $30 million in one-time grants to states to help schools develop and implement emergency management plans, according to the statement.

The president is also petitioning lawmakers to pass legislation that supports the addition of up to 1,000 more school resources officers -- described as "specially trained police officers that work in schools" -- and counselors at the nation's schools.

"Some schools will want trained and armed police; others may prefer increased counseling services. Either way, each district should be able to choose what is best to protect its own students," the White House statement said.

At a press conference held a week after the Newtown shooting, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made a similar request to Congress regarding patrols at American schools.

"I call on Congress today, to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation," LaPierre said.

The core of Obama's proposal, however, centers around universal background checks and assault rifle bans -- steps the president said would result in "fewer atrocities like the one that happened in Newtown."

Shortly after the president's plans were announced Wednesday, the NRA released a statement to media that concluded: "Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."

Rose B January 17, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Sadly, we have a majority in Congress that seems intent on sitting on this. John Boehner, when asked his reaction to the President's directive said he'd take it to committee - a sure sign of death to any new legislation. Is this what we need in our elected officers? To SIT on making important steps toward gun violence because they are beholden to the NRA and gun lobby?? We all need to call our Congressman and women and urge them to ACT and act NOW on laws that will require actually following through on the background checks Pres. Bush put in place - and the NRA fought by buying off legislators, namely one Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas. We also need to urge our leaders to help put in place an effective director for the ATF - yet another post that has been vacant since Mr. Tiahrt and the NRA saw fit to keep our federal agency from doing IT'S WORK by hamstringing the appointment for 6 years. We need to stop the House and Senate Republicans from putting Guns Over People. Once and for all.
Rose B January 17, 2013 at 09:28 PM
And yes, I mean the background checks Pres. BUSH put in place. President Obama is not atypical in putting forth executive orders regarding gun control - Bush, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton all did so as well. But you will not hear that from the Republicans and the gun nuts out there now fighting reasonable legislation on guns.

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