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Gov. Lee, Legislative Leadership Present Strong School Safety Actions

One week after the tragic shooting at The Covenant School, Governor Bill Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton, and legislative leadership announced additional actions to strengthen safety at public and private schools across Tennessee.

These measures include enhanced legislation and funding to place an armed security guard at every Tennessee public school, boost physical school security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans.

The House of Representatives approved the bill last week; the Senate was to consider action this week. See Representative Kirk Haston’s column on page five for details on the House action.

Ahead of any legislative action and in response to The Covenant School shooting, Perry County Commissioner Rodger Barber reached out to Representative Haston and State Senators Ed Jackson and Joey Hensley (who formerly served Perry County) about funding to create a “permanent solution” of School Resource Officers at every school.

Barber pointed out in his letter that the state funded SROs through a grant in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, amounting to $140,000 for Perry County. The current fiscal year, Barber said, the county received the final SRO grant, now reduced to $57,000.

Barber said a $140,000 shortfall is a “significant hit and impact” to the budget of a distressed county, and that SRO funding in the past has provided a “blanket of comfort to parents enrolling children in our four schools.”

Barber closed his letter by asking that SRO funding become permanent.

Commissioner Barber learned that Representative Haston was already working on a plan, and that he had spoken with both Speaker Sexton and Governor Lee about the possibility of approving an SRO funding bill before the end of this legislative session that would help both public and private schools.

Covenant School did not have an SRO on staff.

In October, Sheriff Nick Weems—whose office secured the original …..


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