COPPERAS COVE — U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, was at the Copperas Cove ISD administration building Tuesday to hold a news conference about his new bill supporting school safety.
Williams opened the event with a moment of silence for those who died and the families of those affected in the two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend.
The title of the bill is The School Violence and Mitigation Act of 2019 and the bill is co-sponsored by a Democratic colleague, Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, Fla., the site of a school shooting in February 2018.
The bill is intended to make schools safer and provide grants for physical security improvements at the schools.
“In this, the greatest country on Earth, no parent should fear sending their child to school, and no child or educator should fear for their own safety in the classroom,” Williams said. “The time has come for all of us to work together to find solutions to the threats schools too often face.”
The legislation provides federal grants to schools in the amount of $2 billion over 10 years, allowing for professional security assessments and then physical security improvements, according to Williams.
“The federal government needs to become a partner with the states and take the initiative to provide grants so schools can ensure a security weakness is fully and properly addressed,” Williams said.
The professional assessments that will be done on individual schools’ security will be funded by the federal grant in full. The grant also will cover half of any specific construction or security improvement that needs to be made.
Schools that participate in the grant program will receive the funds to install one silent alarm to alert the closest law enforcement of an emergency.
“This is a common sense provision that can and will save lives,” Williams said.
Williams anticipates starting the process of getting the bill approved on Sept. 8 when Congress reconvenes, and he hopes to get everything done in 30 to 45 days.
He has told colleagues they will want to be in support of the bill when school starts.
Joseph Burns, CCISD superintendent, was at the news conference.
“This provides a resource bank that we can go to, not only for expert opinions but also for financial resources to implement the kinds of things that are recommended by those experts,” Burns said. “You have to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of students and staff and other guests that may be on that campus.”
John Craft, Killeen ISD superintendent, also was in attendance.
“I think it is really an easy bill to support simply because, not only is it bipartisan, but who’s not for protecting our students and staff,” Craft said. “It provides that much more additional funding so that we can again put in place safety measures that we may not have even really thought about just yet.”