PSBA Legislative Priority Issue: Provide for the Safety and Mental Health Needs of Students

School districts must provide safe and supportive school environments for their students. PSBA supports common sense efforts to help our schools in safety matters while emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to providing safe school environments. School districts are vastly different throughout Pennsylvania in their needs and, therefore, the best approaches to school safety must often be determined at the local school district level. The state must prioritize the safety, health and protection of students and school employees by providing schools with continued and long-term funding, assistance and flexible options that best meet the needs of their communities to provide safe and secure school environments.

PSBA also emphasizes that students’ mental and emotional health impacts their ability to learn and calls on the state to support initiatives that promote students’ mental and emotional health; recognize the mental and emotional impact of state-mandated testing on all students; provide research and guidance regarding the appropriate number and type of mental health providers to adequately serve students’ needs; allocate sustained substantial resources for students’ mental and emotional health; and provide mechanisms to support positive school climate and culture.

The issue of school safety and security became a focus in the previous 2017-18 and 2019-20 legislative sessions and is a continued focus. Act 44 of 2018 implemented a flexible new grant program for school districts. The act also created a statewide School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and established numerous other provisions addressing various topics related to school safety. During the 2019-20 legislative session, funding for the grant program was continued and additional legislation addressing safety measures was signed into law. Act 18 of 2019 makes various changes to Act 44 and sets new provisions.  Act 67 of 2019 makes changes and clarifications regarding school security personnel. Act 91 of 2019 authorizes necessary fixes to provisions under Act 67 regarding school safety personnel.