Michigan bipartisan group to seek $100M+ in school safety and mental health programs
A bipartisan group of lawmakers should urge the state of Michigan to spend more than $100 million on new school mental health and safety programs, according to draft recommendations obtained by Local 4.
The draft, broken down into presentation slides, was created by the School Safety Task Force, which was formed in the aftermath of the Oxford High School shooting. The group worked in the background for months, hammering out details and compromising on the aisle in one of the toughest election cycles in recent memory.
“I’m a Democrat and there are a few Republicans that I would absolutely walk through fire for them,” Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi) said in an interview on the draft. “There are 10 million people living in Michigan. We shouldn’t make it partisan. So it’s for them all.
According to the project, the state must find between $101 million and $184 million with goals to fund up to eight new school mental health and safety services, including $10 million for school impact mapping. , $10 million for digital mental health screening, $20 million in incentives for mental health workers to work in schools, and $52 million for 100 school-based health care centers.
The task force is also proposing more than a dozen changes to state security laws. Among those proposals are mandatory updates to school safety plans, better active-fire drills and improved training for school resource officers. They also want funding for two new positions in each school; a safety coordinator and a mental health coordinator.
Some of the proposals, like a capital needs assessment to understand how hard schools need to work and how much exactly they would need, are already in the state budget. But the majority of the proposals are expected to be added in a supplementary budget or next year’s budget.
The long list of expenses would come as schools struggle for funding and are in the midst of severe staff shortages, which means it could be difficult to add work to schools, especially for rural districts or low income. Breen said everything would be funded before it was signed.
“We made a huge budget increase for per-pupil funding. So that will be a way to handle the situation. But we’re not going to impose anything that won’t be funded. »
There are still sticking points on which the working group does not agree. These focus primarily on guns, gun control and guns in schools. On the list, whether schools should send letters home encouraging safe gun storage or whether the state should even have safe storage laws.
Questions have also been raised about whether to end gun-free zones, which would allow concealed weapons to be carried into schools. Programs such as the so-called “Guardian programs” that allow “highly qualified individuals” such as veterans or former law enforcement should have access to firearms on school grounds or Extreme risk protection orders, known as red flag laws, have all been discussed but not decided. .
Ultimately, the task force is seen as a bipartisan success, with a lot of work to do.
“That’s not it, take a look at it, make some corrections, then let it go. It’s an ongoing issue that we’re going to continue to look at what worked, what didn’t,” Breen said.
Breen also said there’s no specific timeline for when the final recommendations will be released, although the task force hopes to finalize the draft “soon.”
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