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Democratic senator proposes school safety fund in state budget

Back of a school bus

A high-ranking Michigan Senate Democrat has proposed creating a school safety fund, and he said districts should have flexibility in deciding how the money would be spent.

Senator Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) is the Assistant Majority Leader and also serves on the budget-setting Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Education Committee.

He said the need to improve school safety is evident, but districts know best what the combination of police presence, structural improvements and student mental health should be.

“I’ve added a pot of school safety and mental health money together to give schools maximum flexibility on which direction they’d like to serve their students best,” he said Friday. “It’s about 343 million dollars.”

In an appearance on the Michigan Public Television show “Off The Record,” Camilleri said placing more police officers in schools isn’t the solution.

“They are a vital part of the school network,” he said. “We’ve recognized that at school districts all over Michigan, but the reason I wanted to include the flexibility is because some school districts don’t necessarily want to use that money specifically on police officers. They want to hire more counselors and have more mental health supports in their schools.”

The Legislature is expected to finalize a K-12 schools budget this summer. Camilleri chairs the Senate Appropriations Pre-K-12 Subcommittee.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.