Senate authorizes $544 million for school construction, panic alarms in schools

By | February 11, 2013 | Comments

The state Senate voted unanimously to pass two school construction bills Monday, including one that aims to make schools safer in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

The bill sets aside $5 million dollars for silent panic alarms that connect schools directly with law enforcement, similar to alarms in banks. It allocates another $5 million for improving security schools, such as reducing the number of public entrances.

“For years and years, we’ve had¬†expedited alarm systems that allow banks to directly communicate with our law enforcement, allowing them to respond as quickly as possible,” said prime sponsor Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup). “We bring that same concept into our schools.”

The spending is tied to another bill passed by the chamber that authorizes $544 million in bonds for school construction projects in the next two-year budget cycle.

Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) also urged lawmakers to also consider a package of six bills aimed at curbing gun violence.

The bills, introduced by Senate Democrats on Monday, include a measure requiring universal background checks, a bill that would prevent children under the age of 12 from accessing a loaded gun and a proposal that would allow someone to voluntarily surrender a gun to law enforcement for 30-day periods.

“We can prevent these tragedies before they get to a school door,” Nelson said.