In the months since the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, parents, lawmakers, school officials and public safety officials across the country have been working together to identify ways to prevent such an event from happening anywhere else. Here in the Ohio Senate, members of the School Safety Task Force held a series of public hearings earlier this year on this issue and are now discussing the various ideas and suggestions that were presented to the panel.

Local communities have also been working on ways to further protect school children. As every neighborhood and school is different, so too are the ways in which they are seeking to meet the health and safety needs of students. This past week, members of the Senate approved a bill that would give communities an additional option for improving school safety. 

Senate Bill 42, sponsored by my colleagues Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Randy Gardner (R- Bowling Green), would authorize the creation of local levies for the sole purpose of funding school safety and security needs. Under the bill, districts would not be required to take any action, but would have the freedom to pursue such a levy option.

The idea for Senate Bill 42 was brought to the attention of Senators Manning and Gardner by school leaders in Vermillion. Currently, a district could request an additional levy and declare that the funds would be used for school safety purposes; however, since Ohio law does not permit levy dollars to be earmarked for such a purpose, those funds could be spent on other areas if a school board or treasurer decided to do so. Senate Bill 42 would enable a district to raise funds exclusively for school security purposes, and a special fund would be established to ensure the monies are not used for anything else.

As lawmakers and officials at all levels of government continue to search for ways to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren, we want to make sure that any solutions are appropriate for the specific needs of a community rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Senate Bill 42 achieves this goal – recognizing that each district has its own concerns and fiscal needs – while empowering schools to put into place the security measures they feel will benefit the community most. Senate Bill 42 is now under consideration in the Ohio House of Representatives.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-0626, by e-mail at Oelslager@OhioSenate.gov, or by writing State Senator Scott Oelslager, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH  43215. I look forward to hearing from you.

 
 
 
  
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