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Sen. Rounds introduces school safety SAVES Act

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Rounds for Senate
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U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds has proposed a new bill designed to help states make their schools safer.

Rounds introduced the Security to Avoid Violence in Educational Settings Act or SAVES Act. The proposal would direct $100 million a year for five years to the Department of Justice.

Rounds said the bill allows for flexibility.

“The idea is not to put a lot of strings to it and to allow the local school districts, working through the states, to be able to decide the best way to add additional security measures to protect their kids,” Rounds said.

Rounds said the money would be redirected from last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

While the bill won’t cost taxpayers any more money, it does repurpose existing funds initially focused on green energy for schools.

“I’d rather take the money from that grant program and redirect it back through the Department of Justice to actually make some modifications to schools," Rounds said. "That means metal detectors, or it means technologies to help cover and conceal students if there was a crisis, items that would help to notify law enforcement as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency, reinforcements such as bullet resistant doors and windows. Those types of things.”

Rounds said schools should make choices, like the recent hiring of a safety coordinator at the Sioux Falls School District.

“In Sioux Falls they may very well say the coordination and the plan to make sure has a similar type of protection in their community may be a good thing to have," Rounds said. "To have somebody to coordinate like that is probably a really good idea.”

Rounds said this can build on federal grants already distributed by the Department of Justice.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.