The big school safety bill proposed this year to protect Utah students from a would-be shooter was revived Thursday after stalling in a deadlocked committee. But most of what was included in the original version has now been cut out.
The new trimmed measure would require teachers to take more lockdown trainings and fund two new state positions for a public safety liaison and a mental health specialist to focus on security in schools.
The earliest draft asked for nearly $100 million to hire more campus police officers and pay for structural improvements, including more locks, better cameras and bigger fences around schoolyards. Nearly all of that money was stripped from the measure for other bills.
And additional provisions in HB120 — including surveys to collect students’ opinions about their school environment and teams at each school that would determine when a kid might be a threat to peers — were slashed. The Senate Education Committee had questioned both of those Wednesday, suggesting it could infringe on student privacy and lead to teachers profiling students of color or those with disabilities. Other lawmakers said it called for “unfunded mandates” because there was only $1 million left in the proposal.
Though it is now gutted, the sponsor, Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said the measure still matters. “Some of you might ask, is it even worth bringing back?” he said. “Yes, it very much is.”
The bill has passed in the House. It will now head to the Senate floor after a unanimous vote in committee Thursday.