School security bill passes Senate committee

A bill supported by the Security Industry Association that would provide funding for schools to purchase security equipment was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week with bipartisan support.

The School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 (S. 146), which is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would provide $40 million annually to communities and schools to install a variety of security solutions such as surveillance cameras, access control systems and other life-safety products.

The legislation would also help schools conduct security assessments and provide training to teachers and school administrators. Schools could apply for “Secure Our Schools” grants through the Department of Justice with federal resources matched by local governments.

In addition, the bill would also create a DOJ and Department of Education joint task force that would develop advisory guidelines for K-12 schools and establish a National Center for Campus Public Safety for colleges and universities.

"Local school officials are in the best position to make final decisions on how to use federal resources," SIA CEO Don Erickson said in a statement. "This legislation will reauthorize the successful Secure Our Schools Program, a program that has gone unfunded for the past two years. As a parent of school-aged children, I am pleased to see the Senate act swiftly and in a bipartisan manner."

The bill, which is also supported by National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of Education Service Agencies, the National Rural Education Association, and the Rural Education Advocacy Association, will now move to the full Senate for a vote.