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Governor Henry McMaster Reveals School Safety Budget Priorities

December 13, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today was joined by SLED Chief Mark Keel, S.C. Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver, S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Robert Woods, and state and local law enforcement officers to unveil his 2024-2025 Executive Budget school safety priorities that include fully funding school resource officers (SROs), school mapping, and school safety upgrades. 

"We make these investments to keep our young people safe because without maintaining a safe and secure environment in our schools and communities, our students will never reach their full potential," said Governor Henry McMaster. "In addition to these investments, the first thing the General Assembly should do when they return is pass graduated penalties for illegal gun possession, which will help keep illegal guns away from criminals and juveniles and help stop illegal guns from making their way into our schools." 

The governor made his announcement during a ceremonial bill signing for H. 3360, a 2023-2024 budget priorityof the governor's, which establishes the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence within SLED. The center’s purpose is to train law enforcement, teachers, school personnel, and the public on school safety and targeted violence. The center is located at the Old Gilbert Elementary School in Lexington County. 

"Recent events across the country show us we must do all we can to prepare law enforcement, school personnel, students, parents, and the community for unimaginable events," said SLED Chief Mark Keel. "I can't think of a more important mission than keeping our kids safe, and I am grateful for our state leaders for entrusting SLED with operating the Center for School Safety and Target Violence."

"I think it’s vitally important that both our law enforcement community and our teachers know that we have their backs," said Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver. "Thanks to the support of both the Governor and the General Assembly, educators have seen sorely needed salary increases over the past several years. Just as often, I hear teachers talk about safety concerns, both in terms of physical safety and student behavior. The bottom line is that we must create environments where teachers feel valued and safe.”

The governor's school safety Executive Budget priorities will include: 

School Resource Officers

The Executive Budget will include $13.4 million in recurring funds to hire an additional 175 SROs. This investment will ensure that South Carolina has funding for a certified law enforcement officer in every school, in every county, all day, every day. Unexpended funds in the current fiscal year will be used to purchase the equipment for these additional 175 SROs. 

In 2018, when the governor made funding SROs a top priority, only 406 public schools in South Carolina had a designated SRO. Currently, 1,109 of the state's 1,240 public schools have a trained SRO. 

School Mapping

The Executive Budget will include $5 million in non-recurring funds for school mapping systems. This system equips 911 operators with real-time digital maps pinpointing exactly where an emergency or incident is happening on a school campus, allowing first responders to get to a threat faster. 

School Safety Upgrades

The Executive Budget will include $20 million in non-recurring funds for school safety upgrades. In the 2023-2024 budget, the General Assembly allocated $20 million to the Department of Education for these upgrades. Eligible upgrades for school facilities include enhancing classroom and internal door locks, securing school entry points, and providing window covers, bulletproof glass, or other relevant technologies.