Lee proposes $40M for school safety officers

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee is proposing a $40 million grant fund to pay for more school resource officers around the state.

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a new investment in school safety to better protect teachers and students and prepare against the threat of violence.


“The safety of our children and teachers is a top priority for my administration, and this investment ensures that school districts will have the resources they need to better protect our schools,” said Lee.


Gov. Lee is proposing a $40 million investment for the school safety grant fund. Legislation filed will provide additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to school resource officers.


Approximately 500 Tennessee schools do not currently have SROs, and changes to the law will enable them to fill these positions. The proposal also accommodates underserved counties working to secure schools and fill SRO positions by adjusting limited match requirements to be proportional to districts’ fiscal capacity.

 “Several members of the legislature have begun working on school safety measures,” said Lee.  “We commend their efforts and look forward to working together to protect our students and teachers.”


The new funding plan also enables schools that currently have an SRO to pursue grants to fund other safety priorities such as implementing building security measures or developing innovative violence prevention programs.


“While we are providing resources for additional security measures for our schools, districts need to also consider programming that identifies students who are in need of intervention,” said Lee. “Security is paramount, but we must also double down on efforts to identify harmful situations before they arise.”


The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Department of Education will jointly oversee programming and grant funds while also providing threat assessment tools.

12 Responses to Lee proposes $40M for school safety officers

  • School is one of the safest environments imaginable. SROs inevitably become involved in school discipline. Students in schools with SROs far more likely to become entangled in the crim justice system.
    Contact me if you want the data.

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    Donna Locke says:

    I knew a couple of teachers permanently disabled by attacks from students. One was a kindergarten student who hit the teacher in the head with a heavy object. Then there was the parent who barged into my husband’s office with an ax. That was decades ago and mild compared to what goes on now. Good luck finding all those officers.

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    James White says:

    What the Federal Government subsidies, the Federal Government controls.

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    Eddie White says:

    Having worked in higher education for the last 30 years, I would agree that with federal dollars comes federal strings, called regulations. However in reading this article, I do not see where the funding comes from the feds. It appears this is state grant money funding this effort. I think in this day and time that we live, it is a necessary expenditure.

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    Diana Page says:

    Too bad the NRA, the TFA and related organizations aren’t paying for this. Instead, their worldview and financial interests are pandered to. Will the kids really be safer–plenty of example where this has not been the case.

    I can’t imagine what it feels like to attend schools or teach in schools in which the message is that your life needs to be guarded by police. What does the resulting atmosphere itself teach our kids? What is the resulting learning environment?

    Unfortunately, many of these officers will not be cut out for this work, with negative long term consequences for the kids. I am glad that some money will be spent on violence prevention.

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      MarLE says:

      Diana …..is access to guns the problem? You do know that 50 yrs ago (an era I know something about) kids drove their gun-rack trucks to school and carried pen knives in their pockets. There is something different today and has to do with the Psychology of victim hood and the legitimacy of lashing out lethally against name-less, faceless “society” when you feel life has been unfair. A shift in Psychology, not access to guns, is behind the tragedies of mass shootings in high schools.

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    Eddie White says:

    My wife works in the front office of a large public high school. The school resource officers are a welcomed part of the school. Their presence creates a safe environment for the students and staff. They also have good relationships with both students and staff. It is unfortunate that we have to have them, but I am glad we do. It is certainly no more traumatic for the students and staff than driving down the highway and seeing a Tennessee state trooper. They are both providing a measure of safety for our citizens.

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    James White says:

    Hopefully they will spell out exactly what the SRO’s responsibilities Are and Are NOT.

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      MarLE says:

      James….you know that the more detail with which you specify responsibilities the more you set yourself (ie taxpayers) up for liability lawsuits when there is any breach of an exhaustive laundry-list of duties. That is why they will be cautious in spelling out EXACTLY and in excruciating detail each and every aspect of responsibility.

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    Angie Roberts says:

    Safety Starts in the Home, Right? How about another $40 Million for the safety of the Moms and Dads falling prey to the Addiction/ Crisis?

    Did TDOC Merge with TDOE?? Tennessee Schools become like Tennessee Prisons and Jails.?
    Are we giving our Children an idea of how it feels to be incarcerated? Are we teaching our children we all have trust issues so we now have quards? Can these quards be trusted?
    Haven’t we had a large number of undisclosed released Addicts destroying homes? Will these former Addicts/drug dealers be eligible for employment with Schools?
    What about these Surveillance companies and local law enforcement?

    Will the Schools have Check Points and dangerous large security crash gates?? I really hated all that when I worked for the prison system. So sad our Schools are turning into my former employer. ?

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