School districts request funds for safety improvements

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Security doors, fencing, lighting and new intercom systems are among the safety improvements that New Mexico school districts are seeking to help prevent shootings.

The Public School Facilities Authority is reviewing applications from districts requesting a portion of the $47.7 million earmarked for school security, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported last week.

State lawmakers agreed in February to award up to $16 million this year for school safety improvements and $10 million in each of the following three years.

The funds will only cover part of the security projects under the state's process for awarding capital outlay projects. Each district is expected to provide a match that varies.

Las Cruces Public Schools is proposing $3.4 million in security projects, and expects to pay about $1.2 million of the costs.

Albuquerque Public Schools has proposed new locks, doorways, fencing and gates, costing $13.2 million. The district would pay nearly $6 million of those expenses.

Some lawmakers have expressed concerns because the funds can't be used for operational expenses, such as security guards or counselors. Educators from across the state have rated increased crisis training as the most important security measure. None of the state funding will be directed for mental health measures, though the same survey found bullying and student mental health among top school security concerns.

"We talk about mental health strategies, but we don't put any teeth behind it," said House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a Democrat.

The Public School Facilities Authority expects to award funding in October.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com


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