State News

State Superintendent calls on Walker to adopt new school safety measures

With primary turnout at its highest in over a decade, voters elected state superintendent Tony Evers to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in November’s general election.

State Superintendent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature Wednesday asking for a special session to help develop a new agenda on school safety.

Walker is currently working with lawmakers to develop policy to improve school security after last month’s shooting in Florida, but Evers said he and his staff at the Department of Public Instruction have not been included in talks.

In response, Evers asked Walker to spend over $50 million towards improving school security through a series of policy adjustments.

“Working with the education community, the proposals in this school safety agenda respond to the troubling trend of gun violence that has come to school doors across Wisconsin and the nation,” Evers said in a statement.

The first proposal seeks to provide the funding to modernize security features in schools by raising the revenue limit for school safety expenditures.

Evers also stressed the importance of increasing mental health access in school districts by providing $25 million in funding to mental health staff and enhance training services to help address student needs.

The proposal includes another $25 million to programs to address school climate and violence. These grants would be used to fund a variety of activities including violence prevention curricula and student leadership development.

The final focal point of the letter was expanding emergency preparedness procedures in schools by requiring regular safety plan reviews and increasing funds for the Wisconsin Safe & Healthy Schools Training & Technical Assistance Center to address school violence.

“All of these proposals are focused on improving safety for students and their schools. Our kids deserve to feel safe and supported at school,” Evers said. “But the fact remains, this is only part of the broader effort that must be undertaken to address gun safety and common sense reform.”

The letter supported Democrats in the state Assembly in their recent effort to call on Walker to reinstate school safety policies since they were eliminated.

“Wisconsin Democrats are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.

State Democrats have revived the debate on a bill that was rejected by Assembly Republicans last month, which would give school districts the option to raise revenue limits to address urgent security and safety concerns.

“If Governor Walker is serious about school safety, he could encourage legislative Republicans to pass this important law they repealed six years ago,” said state Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb.

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