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Bill Would Dedicate Some Revenue Surplus To Classroom Safety

Aired 6/13/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego State Senator Joel Anderson is pushing for school safety spending that would kick in immediately.

— California got an unexpected revenue bump at the beginning of the year. The governor and legislators have left much of the additional funding untouched so far. State Senator Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) has authored the Safe Classrooms Act, which would direct $850 million of the increase to on-time school safety upgrades.

State Senator Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) speaks at a news conference.
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Above: State Senator Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) speaks at a news conference.

Anderson was joined Wednesday by a handful of San Diego Unified leaders, parents and police officers at Washington Elementary in Little Italy to promote his legislation. He said the legislature has already passed several school safety bills with bipartisan support since the December school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

“But many of them don’t start until 2016. If it’s important enough to do in 2016 then we should do it today," he said. "This measure would allow the extra money to be used immediately by the school districts across California.”

The exact time frame for school district to apply for the funds and overseeing how those funds are spent would be left to the California Department of Education as the bill is currently written, but Anderson said he hopes to see projects completed by the end of the year if legislators act quickly.

San Diego Unified Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser said the district could receive about $80 million if the bill passes.

“And that can go a long way to improve the PA systems, the cameras and a lot of the other security measures that we know we need to increase and expand in all of our schools,” he said.

The district identified many of the safety upgrades needed at city schools during site assessments board members directed staff to conduct after the Newtown shootings. Those projects were not included in the $2.8 billion construction bond, Proposition Z, that voters approved last November.

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