By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Top Republican Senate leaders today proposed a major overhaul of security systems at Minnesota schools.

It’s a major update of Minnesota schools to prevent a mass shooting like the one in Florida left 17 students and staff members dead.

Senate Republicans unveiled a sweeping plan to allow local school districts to use a “Safe Schools Fund” to make their classrooms more secure.

“Number one is, you harden the target,” Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) said. “We need to stand here today and we need to start to figure out how we can keep our kiddos safe at our schools.”

The plan allows schools to choose their own security, including:

  • Bulletproof glass
  • Steel doors
  • Armed security guards or police
  • Single point entrances
  • A new state fire alarm policy

The new fire alarm policy aims to keep students from unwittingly evacuating their classrooms into a shooter’s line of fire.

“The greater fear is not fire. We haven’t had a fire death in school in 50 years,” Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) said. “We’ve got sprinklers and zoning and materials in schools that really keep the threat of fire down.”

School safety is one of the few areas in which Democrats and Republicans see common ground. Their debate may be over how much security is necessary — without addressing the issue of easy access to guns.

“Do we want to reinforce this notion of being under seige constantly?” Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) said. “Are there alternative ways in which we can make our society safer?”

There’s one other part of this school safety effort that could be very controversial. Republican Senators say they will explore the possibility of training teachers to carry guns in school.

That’s an issue that’s a “no go” for Democrats.


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