U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited Fayetteville-Manlius High School today to discuss the need to increase federal funding for school safety programs.
Senator Schumer said that declining funding for anti-violence programs have left schools across the country without the proper resources needed to implement safety measures that could prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook or the recent stabbing spree at a Pittsburgh-area high school.
"All it takes is for one student or one stranger to get into the school and do terrible damage as we saw in Murrysville, as we saw in Sandy Hook, as we saw in Columbine," said Schumer. "We want those to be the only incidents like this."
Federal funding for school safety programs has decreased more more than $100 million since 2010. The drop in funding has caused schools to dip into dollars normally allocated for educational programs in order to pay for adequate safety technology, school safety officers and safety training.
In 2008 the City of Syracuse School District received $250,000 from the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Discretionary Grant Program to beef up school security. But cuts to programs like REMS over the last four years has forced school administrators to make tough financial decisions.
"Now that we have responsibilities above and beyond what we ever had in terms of student safety, our funds are limited," said Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent Corliss Kaiser. "We are always making tough decisions on where to spend our dollars. Is it our students' academic careers or is it keeping our students safe?"
Fayetteville-Manlius High School has been breached twice this year by intruders, one of which remains at-large, and is hoping to institute a one-point entry system for large events in order to safeguard the security of students and faculty. After the breaches in December, both the high school and middle school instituted a single entry point after school hours that is staffed by a school aide until 9:30 p.m.
But with gyms and an auditorium at opposite ends of the school campus, F-M's current layout makes it impossible to implement a single entry point during large evening events, something it hopes that additional federal funding can change.
Schumer is urging Congress to increase overall funding for school safety programs, which local school districts would be able to use as they see fit. His goal is to make additional funding for school security programs available as early as next school year.