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March 20, 2018 05:03 PM

Minnesota Lawmakers Could Increase Funding For School Safety Improvements

Pipestone, MN

The Minnesota Legislature is considering changing the way schools can spend money in order to improve student safety.

That could mean schools can use their long term facility maintenance budgets to make security upgrades. 

Pipestone schools just finished studying their long term needs, which include security changes to building entrances.  

But the district is waiting to make a decision, until the legislature does. 

It's not an old building. 

"This building was built in 2004," Pipestone Superintendent Kevin Enerson said. 

But a lot has changed over the last ten years. 

"Events have dictated those things, so you respond," Enerson said. 

Especially when it comes to securing entrances. 

"Entrances, really, you want multiple doors that you have to go through," Enerson said. 

Ideally, you want visitors to come through the office before entering a school. 

"With our building you walk into the learning area and then into the office," Enerson said. 

Enerson knows the districts needs to change how people come in and out of its buildings. 

Changing all the doors in Pipestone could cost almost $800,000. But the district doesn't have a plan yet because,

"Somebody will say, 'whatever we have to do to keep schools safe,' and I wouldn't disagree, but how are we going to pay for that?" Enerson said. 

The district knows what it needs to do now, administrators just need to figure out how to do it and afford it. 

Now, that $800,000 mark is an estimate. It ultimately comes down to a vote, and the district is waiting to make those plans until they have a decision from the Minnesota legislature. 

Some options the superintendent said could be combining Pipestone's two elementary schools so only one door needs upgrades. But again, right now they're just considering their options, and plan to form a community task force for input. 

The governor of Minnesota has another plan to bolster school safety. $21 million in new funding for security enhancements and mental health improvements in Minnesota schools.

The proposal includes giving schools dedicated funds for improvements like bulletproof glass and secure entrances. The plan also expands mental health services in schools and tells school districts to share information on expelled students.



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