DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Reynolds rolled out a $100 million plan to improve security at all Iowa schools. The bulk of the federal funding will go towards infrastructure improvements such as staff radios, security doors, or a buzzer system to let visitors into the building.
The proposal is providing peace of mind to some parents. Others say it still doesn’t go far enough.
“You send your kid to school thinking that the teachers are going to protect the children because you’re not there to protect your child,” Johanna Green, of Fort Dodge, said. “But nine times out of ten that’s not what’s happening these days.”
Parents are hopeful the investment in school safety helps.
“I think it’s a great thing, especially with all the shootings and all the other stuff that’s going on,” Jessica Salazar, of Eldora, said.
“I hope it works,” Kenny Foy, of Fort Dodge, said. “All you can do is try.”
But they’re also worried that the real problem isn’t being addressed.
“What we see now is a security issue,” Green said. “We don’t see that these kids are actually having mental health issues.”
While none of the new spending announced Tuesday will be directed to mental health, the governor’s office says state funding for mental health will increase by nearly $3.5 million over the next year.
“Addressing mental health access but working with schools and helping our kids really get the services that they need earlier,” Gov. Reynolds said, “so that they can have every opportunity to have a healthy and successful life.”
Each Iowa school building will receive $50,000. The process will start with security assessments at individual school buildings, which are expected to begin in July.
Des Moines Public Schools Interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement: “Safety and security are not new issues in education but ones that have long been priorities for our schools. At DMPS, we spend millions of dollars on everything from our own public safety staff to remodeling buildings to make them more secure to installing and expanding an array of safety tools, such as video cameras. We welcome support to improve upon our efforts.”
As districts make improvements, parents want peace of mind.
“No matter how safe you think your town is, stuff happens,” Salazar said.
“I don’t care how much money you spend on security,” Green said. “You gotta start paying attention to the children.”
The School Safety Bureau will also provide active shooter training to anyone who requests it.