Support Grows for Sen. Marshall’s Bill to Harden Schools
$150.1 billion of available COVID funds has yet to be spent by schools
(Washington, D.C., June 22, 2022) – Support has grown for U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. and Congressman Mike Garcia’s (CA-25) Safe Schools Act, legislation to allow COVID relief dollars allocated to schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be used by schools to harden themselves with physical security measures, such as locks, panic buttons, individual room security systems, video surveillance, and hiring and paying the salaries of armed school resource officers. The legislation will exempt expenses for school security improvements from current ESSER guidelines that require expenses to be related to COVID-19. The Safe Schools Act now has 18 Senate Cosponsors and has been endorsed by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, ZeroEyes, the Door and Hardware Institute, the Security Industry Association, as well as Kansas Rep. Kristey Williams and Kansas Sen. Renee Erickson.
“I am grateful that support is growing for our Safe Schools Act, which allows the abundance of unused COVID relief dollars to be allocated to secure schools in Kansas and throughout the nation. While we made some progress in previous legislation to make our schools stronger, harder, and safer, certainly there is more that can and must be done immediately to protect kids,” said Senator Marshall. “What happened in Uvalde was a horrific tragedy. While many have been quick to play politics, one thing we can all agree on is that Congress must act to harden schools.”
“In Kansas alone, unspent COVID dollars held by schools is roughly $1 billion, but red tape is holding it up. Cutting that red tape is part of our school-safety plan announced this week,” said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “I appreciate Senator Marshall leading on this at the federal level and look forward to partnering with him and others in our congressional delegation to free up the money for immediate use on Kansas school safety.”
“ZeroEyes applauds Senator Marshall’s tremendous leadership introducing the Safe Schools Act, a critical and much needed school safety measure. As the leading DHS Safety Act designated video analytics security company, ZeroEyes is focused on active shooter detection and mitigation. We know firsthand the significant challenges school districts face when procuring emerging technologies designed to protect and provide peace of mind to students and faculty. We strongly support this measure and every congressional effort to protect and fund safe schools. We look forward to working with Senator Marshall and members on both sides of the aisle to pass this critical legislation to help secure all schools in America,” said Chief Strategy Officer at ZeroEyes, Kieran Carroll.
“SIA supports swift passage of the School Safety Act introduced by Sen. Marshall because it recognizes that modern, effective security infrastructure is a critical component of a holistic approach to school safety. When prevention efforts fail, addressing vulnerabilities can help deter, limit and expedite emergency response to school violence. The School Safety Act provides schools with much needed flexibility to tailor federal assistance to meet local safety and security needs,” Don Erickson, CEO, Security Industry Association.
“Repurposing unused COVID-19 relief funds to enhance physical security in schools is a commonsense proposal that will help protect our students and teachers from harm. Too many schools around the country lack the resources to implement certain fundamental physical security technologies such as performance-tested door locks or bullet-resistant interior doors and windows as recommended by the Department of Homeland Security. We thank Sen. Marshall and Rep. Garcia for introducing this legislation and urge Congress to include it as part of any school safety reforms,” said Cedric Calhoun, Chief Executive Officer, Door and Hardware Institute.
“One of the easiest ways we could provide additional funding to schools at no additional taxpayer cost is to unlock existing COVID relief funds. U.S. Senator Roger Marshall is leading the national effort to free up the more than $150 billion in unused COVID money that is currently restricted for only a limited number of uses, school safety not being one of them. In Kansas alone, schools have around $1 billion available for our kids. Schmidt, Marshall, and the other members of our federal delegation will work together to cut the red tape so schools can decide for themselves how best to allocate the funds,” said Kansas Rep. Kristey Williams and Kansas Sen. Renee Erickson.
“Now more than ever, we must be proactive in securing our schools. All Constitutional options need to be examined to ensure our children are safe in the classroom. I’m proud to join Senator Marshall in introducing the Safe Schools Act, a common-sense bill that would allow schools to spend leftover COVID relief funds on crucial security improvements to protect students from harm,” said Congressman Garcia.
Senators Tim Scott (SC), Thom Tillis (NC), Steve Daines (MT), Rick Scott (FL), Chuck Grassley (IA), Todd Young (IN), Mike Braun (IN), Jerry Moran (KS), John Barrasso (WY), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Ron Johnson (WI), Roger Wicker (MS), John Kennedy (LA), Kevin Cramer (ND), Josh Hawley (MO), James Lankford (OK), Mike Crapo (ID), and Cynthia Lummis (WY) have cosponsored the legislation.
- The Kansas Department of Education has only spent $261.3 million of the $1.28 billion funds awarded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
- Nationwide, of the $189.5 billion of COVID money awarded under ESSER, State Education Agencies have yet to spend $150.1 billion (79.2%).
- There were 67 disrupted plots against K-12 schools from 2006-2018 – 66% of the schools had no system for alerting officials to concerning or threatening.
- Senator Marshall supported the STOP School Violence Act, which provides funding for schools to identify threats and invest in security equipment and technology. This was signed into law during his time in Congress and has resulted in many schools being hardened.
- Senator Marshall supported the Fix NICS Act, which strengthened the background check system by offering federal funds for states and federal agencies to improve reporting of criminal records to NICS. This bill was signed into law during his time in Congress.
- Additionally, Senator Marshall introduced legislation that would encourage responsible gun ownership by offering tax incentives to Americans who take firearm safety courses and invest in securing their firearms.
- ZeroEyes was founded by former Navy SEALS and military veterans in 2018. ZeroEyes weapons detection software has been validated by the Department of Homeland Security SAFETY Act program and is deployed across public K-12 districts in eighteen states.