Leaders discuss danger of underfunding school safety at roundtable
FISHERS, Ind. -- Keeping your kids safe at school is a vital need, but it comes at a cost that can be difficult for districts to afford.
Leaders from law enforcement agencies, school districts and private companies met for a roundtable discussion on school safety at Hamilton Southeastern Schools on Tuesday.
U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks and Luke Messer, who are both up for re-election, hosted the roundtable.
Leaders expressed a need to keep funding for school safety from dropping off, and said they hoped the Representatives would make good on their promises to cut red tape at the federal level. Messer said most Indiana districts do not apply for federal money for security because it is so difficult to understand.
"The first thing I’d do is absolutely get a School Resource Officer in every school building in our district. We just can’t afford that right now," Hamilton Southeastern Assistant Superintendent Mike Beresford said.
The district currently has one full-time SRO in each of its two high schools, and three who roam to other schools in the district.
Many Indiana districts rely on state grants to pay for school security costs, including SRO's. Those grants, offered through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, are funded for two more years, at which time the state would need to secure more funding. They've already started to drop off, though.
"The funding is consistently going down at the state level. I believe we started at 10 million dollars and we’re now at three and a half," Zionsville Town Council President Susana Suarez said.
IDHS Executive Director David Kane said that he expected more funding would be made available, but districts said that even that is often not enough, given all the stress on school budgets.
The roundtable also included private companies, like Allegion, which sells school security systems.
Rick White, with Allegion, showed FOX59 the door locks inside Hamilton Southeastern which allow a teacher to lock the door from inside to keep an intruder out, but let anyone inside to open the door quickly without unlocking it.
White said that in his experience, it is money that is the biggest issue for schools being able to provide high-level security.
"They want to do more, they have ideas, they have plans, they need funding," White said.