Governor’s proposal would help boost security — but not a lot

Published 8:22 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

As students around the world participated in student walk-outs to protest gun violence on Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton recently rolled out his own proposal for boosting support for safety in schools.

Dayton’s Safe and Secure Schools Act would provide $15.9 million to enhance safety for students, teachers, parents, and staff in schools.

In Austin, that would mean an additional $93,204, according to figures released by the governor’s office. The district currently receives $186,408. The proposal has not been acted upon by the legislature.

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Any additional funding would be appreciated, said Mark Stotts, executive director of finance and operations for the Austin School District.

But even then, securing buildings is an expensive proposition.

Right now, the annual funding is used to reimburse the Austin Police Department for two members who serve as school resource officers – one at the middle school and one at the high school. The funding covers both wages and benefits.

The district is also planning installation of a new camera system, replacing an old analog system, said Stotts.

“That system alone costs $300,000, so it’s not nearly enough” to fully fund the work, he said.

The good news is that the district has worked for years to secure entrances at school buildings, he said.

Blooming Prairie would be in line to get an additional $14,699 to lead the out county school districts. The rest – Hayfield, Southland, Lyle, LeRoy-Ostrander and Grand Meadow — would all receive less than $14,000.

In 2003, two Minnesota students were shot and killed by their classmate at Rocori High School. Since then, there have been at least 879 criminal homicides committed with firearms in Minnesota, including a 2005 shooting at Red Lake Senior High School, which left 10 people dead.

More recently, there have been at least 21 threats of violence at schools across Minnesota since the Feb. 14, shooting in Parkland, Florida, including a threat made on social media against Austin High School. Two students were detained in the incident. No threat was carried out.