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Scott proposes putting unused COVID relief funds to improve school security

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott joined other lawmakers this week to introduce a bill he says is designed to...
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott joined other lawmakers this week to introduce a bill he says is designed to make schools safer.(Adam Mintzer)
Updated: Jun. 12, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WCSC) - U.S. Sen. Tim Scott joined other lawmakers this week to introduce a bill he says is designed to make schools safer.

The Safe Schools Act, introduced by Scott, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) and U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-California) would allow schools to use unspent COVID relief dollars allocated through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for security measures.

“As the nation continues to mourn the innocent lives taken in Uvalde, leaders have a responsibility to turn our collective grief into real action,” Scott said. “This commonsense bill takes an important step in that direction by using unspent COVID money to make schools safer — an absolute no-brainer. I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill to protect students and teachers.”

Those measures could include locks, panic buttons, individual room security systems, video surveillance, and hiring and paying the salaries of armed school resource officers.

The act would exempt expenses for school security improvements from current ESSER guidelines that require expenses to be related to COVID-19.

“What happened in Uvalde was a horrific tragedy,” Marshall said. “While many have been quick to play politics, one thing we can all agree on is that Congress must act to harden schools.”

Nationwide, of the $189.5 billion of COVID money awarded under ESSER, state education agencies have yet to spend $150.1 billion, about 79.2 percent.

Scott’s office said there were 67 disrupted plots against K-12 schools from 2006 to 2018 and 66 percent of the schools had no system for alerting officials to concerning or threatening.

Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Indiana), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) also cosponsored the bill.

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