Governor Kim Reynolds is directing 100 million dollars in federal pandemic relief to school safety measures.
The state is buying software to monitor school threats online and will provide an app, website and phone number that lets people anonymously report concerns. And $50,000 will be distributed for each school building in the state, to cover security measures. Nine people are being hired for a School Safety Bureau being established in the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
Reynolds had asked legislators to create an Iowa School Safety Bureau a few years ago and she’s now using federal funds to set it up. Every public school district and private school in Iowa will be offered an emergency radio for every school building, to communicate directly with law enforcement if there’s a security threat. Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens says the goal is to identify concerning behaviors early.
Bayens says his agency will provide active shooter training to anyone who requests it.
None of the $100 million in spending announced Tuesday will be directed to mental health programs. The governor says school safety, though, requires addressing the mental health needs of students and state spending on the mental health system will increase by nearly $3.5 million over the next 12 months.
Reynolds cites a recent survey which found 24% of Iowa 11th graders had thought about killing themselves in the past year. University of Minnesota research indicates many teenage mass shooters had contemplated suicide and ultimately redirected their self-loathing into hatred of others.