SCHOOL SAFETY OFFICIALS: Spend $6 Million Annually on School Security

WITZ Radio News is an affiliate of Network Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS - A school safety task force says Indiana should spend an extra six-million dollars a year on school safety.

Indiana's school-safety grant fund reached nine-million dollars this year, plus a one-time boost of five-million more after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The task force led by the Departments of Education and Homeland Security is recommending 15-million a year, and says there should be changes to a matching-fund requirement. The panel says many schools haven't applied for help because they don't have the money for their share.

The panel's 18 recommendations include a heavy emphasis on improving mental-health assistance for Hoosier students. The task force calls on the Family and Social Services Administration to provide schools with a mental-health screening tool, train teachers to recognize signs of mental-health issues, and create a violence prevention director to craft additional recommendations. And the panel says Indiana should prod more schools to participate in the Centers for Disease Control's biannual survey of risk factors.

The panel says it consciously steered clear of recommendations on gun laws -- the group says legislators are better equipped to consider those issues.

Governor Holcomb says he's already moving to implement four recommendations, including a single website with safety information for schools and parents, and an anonymous tipline run by the State Police. Homeland Security director Bryan Langley says the tipline would help police to spot patterns of information, instead of having tips on potential threats scattered among multiple schools and police agencies.

Holcomb says he's asked the state budget agency to assess what the other recommendations would cost and how to pay for it.

Legislators created the task force at Holcomb's request in March after the Parkland shooting, and two months before a teacher and student were wounded at a Noblesville middle school.