Senate Approves Bill For School Security Funding
From the Morning Journal, By Rick Payerchin
April 16, 2013
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VERMILLION- The Ohio Senate has approved a bill that would allow school districts to use money raise through a levy for school security.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 42, has been passed to the Ohio House and could be assigned to a committee for deliberations as early as today.

The bill was inspired by Vermilion school officials and is sponsored by Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, and Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green.

The legislation does not require districts to take any action, Manning and Gardner said.
However, it gives the community the freedom to decide what is best for their children and their local school district, they said.

“Currently, the law only allows school districts to place a general levy on the ballot,” Manning said. “This bill will give voters the opportunity to vote for a school levy that specifically funds additional security at their child’s school.”

Schools use general fund money to pay for security officers, video cameras and training to ensure safety in the buildings, said Vermilion school board President David Rice. He testified about the bill before the Senate Standing Committee on Ways and Means.

Vermilion spends about $40,000 to help pay for a school resource officer to patrol the district’s buildings, Rice said.

But school officials sometimes must choose between paying for security measures or for education, Rice said.

A separate levy allows the schools to separate security money from other expenses and revenue sources, he said.
“I don’t want to be in a situation where safety and security has to be negotiated,” Rice said.

If approved in Columbus, Vermilion schools likely will form a task force with community members to examine school security measures and recommend actions to the board of education, Superintendent Phil Pempin said.

Voters also could turn down such a levy, Rice said, adding he has no issues with that because families and school districts must live within their means.

The bill passed 31-2 in the Senate. Gardner said he was unsure how it would be received when it was introduced, but since then, the bill has received support from a variety of groups and bipartisan backing in the Senate.

“I would suggest that this bill has all the things you’re looking for in passing legislation,” he said. “You have Republicans and Democrats coming together,” along with groups including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, the Ohio Education Association, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio School Boards Association.

“I would hope that’s a strong signal to the House that this bill deserves to become law,” Gardner said.

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