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Schumer says schools struggling to fund safety programs

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stands in front of Fayetteville-Manlius High School to discuss school safety.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was at Fayetteville-Manlius High School Monday announcing an initiative to restore funding to school safety programs. Funding for the federal grants has declined by more than $100 million over the past four years.

Fayetteville-Manlius High School had two security breaches in the past year, one involving an unidentified man walking the halls after hours, taking pictures. The school is seeking $1.8 million for additional security cameras and to build a one-point entry system to get into the school. They've secured about half of that money but without additional grants they would have to pay the rest with funds meant for education programs.

Schumer says in the wake of recent school tragedies, now is the time for schools to get the money back.     

"They want to pour the dollars into educational programming," Schumer said. "Into sports, into the arts, into science, not into security cameras or lock down training. But if they don't have help from the federal government they don't have much of a choice because they've got to keep the school safe."

But Schumer says the need for increased safety funding is even greater now because of how tight school budgets are.

"They're going to keep the schools safe anyway, but the federal dollars would help them and now they have to take dollars out of their tax levy education funding," the senator explained.

Several area school districts are facing budget gaps, and at least one is considering cutting spending on security.

Schumer says there is good support in Congress to restore funding now that the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration has ended. If Congress is able to get it into this year's budget, funding would be available starting October 1.