Gov. Dayton unveils $20.9 million school safety plan

Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled his proposal Wednesday to provide $15.9 million to enhance safety in schools throughout Minnesota. 

The Safe and Secure Schools Act would use the surplus to boost school funding by $18 a student – totaling $15.9 million in 2019. The revenue would be used for school safety improvements and the identification and support of students that may be a danger to themselves or others. 

The proposal also includes an additional $5 million for school-based grants that would provide mental health services to students who need added support, according to a news release. 

Dayton’s proposal comes out of a national conversation about school safety and gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The massacre sparked copycat threats in schools across the country. At least 21 threats have been made against Minnesota schools in the last three weeks, according to Dayton’s office. 

The governor is not proposing any gun control legislation in his school safety package, saying there is no appetite for them in the Legislature.

Last week, the House Public Safety Committee tabled two bills – one that would require a criminal background check for firearm transfers and another that would enable law enforcement and family members to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others. 

“They don’t even want to talk about it, much less act on it, which is really shameful, but it is the reality,” Dayton said at a press conference. 

On Tuesday, lawmakers considered a bill that would change the rules of Minnesota’s long-term facilities maintenance fund to allow the money to be used for school security upgrades. The bill’s proponents say the measure would make schools a less appealing target without necessarily allocating any new money.