Who pays for school safety?

President Trump’s commission on school safety presented its report on Tuesday. It offered a few ideas but ignored the big bear in the room: Who’s going to pay for any changes?

For example, the commission called for better training of school officials to help identify younger students with mental health problems. That is a common-sense idea to try and keep these children from becoming potential attackers when they are a few years older.

And another: The panel said schools should hire and train more military veterans or retired police officers to enhance security on campuses.

The main concern with both proposals is not their substance, but their cost. Adding employees, even part--timers, for security purposes is only going to take away money that could be used for teachers.

As for better mental health training, it’s fine to do a better job of identifying troubled youngsters, but schools also need the support of law enforcement and the court system to mandate counseling for kids who show signs of causing serious problems in the future.

A third recommendation that would be a potentially large expense is installing windows with laminated or bullet-proof glass, and making sure doors can be locked from inside a room to keep attackers from getting in.

Unfortunately, schools eventually will have to take protective measures like these — not to mention better security at doors to buildings. This would turn many campuses into closed properties, but there may be no other choice.

The commission lost its nerve on the other end of the problem: easy access to guns. It said only that states should adopt laws allowing court orders to temporarily restrict firearms for people found to be a risk to themselves or others. It did not recommend raising the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21.

In any case, it is wrong to expect the small percentage of local residents who pay property taxes to fund these security efforts. States and the federal government also must contribute.

 

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