Days after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school left 21 people dead and 17 others injured, districts across the nation say they're tightening up and reviewing security policies. But as school districts request more funding to do so, public records show the federal government has already paid tens of millions of dollars on school safety protocols.
Senators representing a series of states have called for the "hardening" of schools, otherwise known as a process designed to make schools more resistant to attack through measures like installing video cameras or using bulletproof glass, according to a study published in Violence and Gender, a peer-reviewed journal.
Records obtained by CBS News reveal the government has already spent more than $150 million on measures including school violence prevention programs. And since 2018, the total money in school safety grants provided by the U.S. Department of Justice has more than doubled.
In April, the U.S. attorney general asked for $53 million for school security grants next year. Some schools have already used some of the funding for measures like mental health training for staff, CBS News correspondent Scott MacFarlane reports.
One New Jersey school sought grants for brand new digital security radios. In West Virginia, the government provided schools with $194,000 for cameras, door locks and school police training.
"We have cameras, we have a response, we have panic alarms to first responders," said Tony Trongone, superintendent of Millville Public School District in New Jersey.
As grieving communities demand change following the Texas shooting, which was the 27th to occur in a school this year, some question if hardening schools actually addresses the root problem of gun violence.
"I mean what kind of testimony is it that we declare we can't protect our schools from people with guns so we're going to build bunkers and castles for our children?" Sen. Cory Booker, who's previously supported school safety grants, told MacFarlane. "And does that solve the problem? No."
He called for accountability and legislative action to be taken to "make it harder for would-be killers to commit mass murders with military grade weapons."
"The idea that the solution to this crisis is to 'harden our schools' is nothing more than shameful surrender to impotency," the New Jersey Democrat said on Twitter Wednesday.
irst published on May 26, 2022 / 12:10 PM
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