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Michigan sends money to help Oxford ‘heal,’ improve safety at other schools

oxford high school
Oxford Community Schools will receive financial relief to support students and staff after they experienced a deadly school shooting in November. (Bridge file photo)

Michigan will invest $9.8 million to help Oxford High School recover from a school shooting and $27.5 million to help schools assess school safety and provide comprehensive maps of school buildings for law enforcement.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected on Friday to sign House Bill 6012, which passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate.

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The bill provides $9.8 million to Oxford Community Schools, in the wake of a shooting at Oxford High School Nov. 30 that left four students dead and seven injured, including a teacher. 

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The district can use the funds to provide student support including psychologists, family liaisons and mental health staff. The district can also use the money for school security, additional learning time and legal fees. Spending on repairing the high school is also allowed.

The school safety package also includes $15 million for public school districts and private schools to conduct safety and security assessments. Districts can apply to receive up to $2,000 per school building to conduct these assessments. 

Additionally, there is $12.5 million available for schools to conduct critical incidence mapping so that law enforcement have comprehensive information about a school’s layout. This type of mapping must include accurate floor plans and labels for things like key boxes, external defibrillators and trauma kits.

The package is bipartisan. The House passed the bill with 103 members voting yes and seven members not voting. The Senate passed the bill with 37 yes votes and one member excused. 

The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, who is a former teacher. 

“We carefully listened to the needs expressed by Oxford and worked with them to provide the tools they need to recover from the lasting impact of the tragedy that students, staff and the building itself withstood,” Hornberger said in a statement. 

Oxford High School band director Jim Gibbons and president of the Oxford Education Association said in a statement that the package would give money to “continue to support our students and staff in their healing.” 

Whitmer said in a statement she is proud to sign the bill and more can be done including “funding effective law enforcement solutions and storing firearms safely.” 

Earlier this week, about 100 teachers and other educators demonstrated in front of the State Capitol building calling for better school safety and stronger gun laws after a school shooting in Texas left 19 students and two teachers dead in May

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Earlier this month, Republican candidates for governor shared their ideas for improving school safety. Their ideas range from allowing teachers to be armed, training retired veterans to be armed hallway monitors and requiring schools to have a single point of entry.

The House passed a separate bill this week that would allow school districts to submit critical incidence maps to law enforcement in case of an emergency. The bill has been referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee. 

There could be more assistance on the way. The Governor, House and Senate all included spending for school safety grants in their budget proposals but they differ on what schools could use the grants for.

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