State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Differences emerge over who should fund student safety

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 25, 2017 4:28 AM

FILE PHOTO: A proposal to allow teachers to carry firearms in the name of student safety is prompting strong partisan reactions. (AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

(Harrisburg) -- A GOP-proposed bill currently sitting in the state Senate is raising questions about who should be responsible for keeping Pennsylvania students safe.

It would give districts the option to let trained teachers carry firearms at school.

Indiana County School District Superintendent Dale Kirsch said in his mind, the issue of whether it's appropriate to arm teachers comes down to available resources.

Currently, he said his district has one armed guard for its high school, but no security in its middle school or four elementary schools.

"I'd feel better if we had armed security in each building, versus having armed teachers," he said. "But without the funding for armed security, at least arming teachers would give us an option."

Kirsch plans to apply for a state security funding grant through the state's existing Safe School Initiative, for which his district recently became eligible.

He noted, however, it's unlikely to cover all six of the district's buildings.

Governor Tom Wolf and other opponents of the plan argue school security is safer when it's up to the state.

Wolf said while he'd veto the GOP bill, he supports allocating more money to the Safe School Initiative.

He's at odds with at least the House on that point though. The chamber's budget proposal slashes funding for the initiative--eliminating all of the approximately $8.5 million dollars it was allocated this year.

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