Kortz to propose $30 million boost for Safe Schools grant program

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – Noting that the recent deaths of 17 students and teachers in a Florida school shooting drives home the horrific realization that “something must be done,” state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, is proposing a $30 million hike in funding for Pennsylvania's Safe Schools Targeted Grants program.

Kortz is currently seeking co-sponsors for his bill, which in addition to boosting the program from $8.5 million to $38.5 million, calls for incremental increases until a $50 million threshold is reached. Kortz’s legislation also would permit school districts to apply for Safe Schools grants yearly, instead of every two years.

“This funding would continue to be purposed for the training and compensation of school resource officers and school police officers, as well as for funding programs or security-related equipment that would address school safety and violence,” Kortz said. “When students, teachers, administrators, parents, and staff enter their school buildings each day, they are supposed to walk in with a sense of security and trust in the school’s ability to protect them from harm.”

Addressing the seriousness with which elected officials nationwide must take shooting tragedies like the one in Parkland, Fla., Kortz added that when it comes to schools, “We as lawmakers are responsible for ensuring their continued safety so that those inside may work, teach, learn, and play in peace.”  

Kortz plans to introduce his bill as soon as House members have been given ample time to sign on in support.