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Gus Bilirakis Fights for Funds for School Safety

July 30, 2018 - 6:00am
Gus Bilirakis
Gus Bilirakis

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., brought out a bill last week to help boost security at schools around the nation. 

Bilirakis unveiled the “Promoting Resource Officers Together for Exceptionally Critical Targets with Key Investments in Districts and Schools Act"(PROTECT KIDS Act) on Wednesday and showcased in on Thursday.   

The bill would hire more Student Resource Officers (SROs) in schools by setting aside $225 million from the federal government that the U.S. Department of Justice will use in a matching grant program over five years. The funds would be used to match funds from local school districts and municipalities to hire SROs.  The bill requires the Justice Department prioritize larger school districts with 65,000 students or more. Under the proposal, districts can apply for up to$10 million with a limit of $20,000 for each school. 

Bilirakis weighed in on Thursday as to why he had introduced the bill. 

“After the Parkland tragedy, I reached out to local superintendents, school board members and sheriffs in my district asking how the federal government can support them in their mission to keep kids safe in school,” Bilirakis said. They told me that the single most important factor in improving safety is the hiring of well-trained School Resource Officers.”  

Bilirakis insisted that the Sunshine State would benefit from his proposal. 

“Sadly, the school districts in the 12th Congressional District and throughout the state of Florida do not have sufficient resources to provide a certified School Resource Officer on every campus,” he said. “Many of these districts are among the largest school systems in the country. While we successfully increased federal grant funding in our last budget bill for the purpose of hiring school resource officers, I knew more support was needed. The PROTECT KIDS Act will help assure parents that their children have a safe and secure learning environment.”

So far, Bilirakis has not rounded up any cosponsors nor is there a sponsor over in the U.S. Senate.  The bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce and the Judiciary Committees on Wednesday. 

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