With the recent release of ESA’s Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools, the association’s Government Relations program is working to gain attention for the document at the federal, state and local levels.
School security has already begun to gain momentum in a number of state legislatures:
- North Dakota is considering legislation that would appropriate $3 million in grants to school for security improvements. If passed, the bill would authorize expenditures for a wide range of safety measures, including alarms, cameras, electronic door locks, emergency call buttons, key or pass cards, metal detectors and similar equipment.
- A bill in Washington state would instruct every school board to "consider installing a perimeter security control mechanism or system on all school campuses, as appropriate to the design of the campus.” This could potentially include cameras or other security measures.
- Indiana has a wide-ranging education bill that includes a section that would encourage the purchase of equipment that would "restrict access to school property; or expedite notification of first responders.”
- Delaware is considering the establishment of a $5 million school safety and security fund that would provide partial or full funding, on a competitive basis, to eligible public schools for projects that would improve school safety or security.
- California is considering the "Safe Classroom Act,” which would allocate funds for safety improvements, including cameras or surveillance systems.
ESA has also begun discussions with the Security Industry Association (SIA) in hopes of supporting its school security initiative as a federal priority and creating a unified approach on a national scale.
John Chwat, ESA Director of Government Relations, said SIA has taken a prominent role in an industry coalition that is recommending school security policies. Given the establishment of ESA’s guidelines, he said, "it’s a natural thing for ESA to join with SIA in its initiative so that school security will be a priority not only at the state level, but on the federal level as well.”
Chwat said that as the federal legislative calendar progresses, he expects that Congress will take its cue from the states and explore ways to encourage and enable schools to improve their security capabilities.
"School security is THE issue for this year, and it’s still being talked about by Congress,” he said. "They’re likely to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars in formula grants for schools. We want to make sure the language includes security devices, with installation and not just procurement.”