Bill would earmark slots money for school safety, mental health

Del. Nic Kipke wants slot machine revenue to be used for increased school safety and mental health services.

The Pasadena Republican says the bill he plans to introduce this week, on behalf of the county, would double the amount of money spent on school security in public elementary and secondary schools. It also would provide additional funding for mental health services for students and parents.


Slots money already is alloted to schools for operating expenses and capital projects through the state's Education Trust Fund. Kipke's bill would list school safety and mental health as additional areas in which that money could be used.

The effort to improve school safety comes in the wake of a school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 students and six women dead.


"One of the positive things to come out of this tragedy is it has forced people in government to think 'How can we do a better job protecting our children?'" Kipke said.

The Education Trust Fund gets 49.5 percent of slots revenue. In 2012, slots revenue provided $184.19 million for the Education Trust Fund. The new Maryland Live! casino in Hanover accounted for $111.96 million.

Slots money could provide funds for additional security personnel and equipment at public elementary and secondary schools across the state, Kipke said.

The county school system budgeted $785,809 this year for the Office of School Security. The county police department allocated $4,823,700 this year for school resource officers and crossing guards.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold said he'd like to see a school resource officer stationed at all of the county's 19 middle schools. All 12 county high schools already have resource officers, but they're stationed at only nine middle schools, schools spokesman Bob Mosier said.

Additional security would not only help in the event of an emergency but in daily school activities, Kipke said.

"There's definitely a discipline issue that's increasing in some of our schools," he said. "Our teachers could definitely use some support from additional resource officers to intervene in bullying or drug activity."

The money also could be used to hire additional counselors or train more mental health professionals.


"We can do a much better job of reaching young people," Leopold said.