Delegates from Anne Arundel County plan to introduce a bill in the House on Tuesday that would use casino revenues to increase security and mental health services at public schools across Maryland.
"If you really understand public schools in Maryland, you know this: They are becoming increasingly more difficult for classroom teachers because discipline is lacking at home and teachers are spending an increasing amount of time maintaining discipline in the classroom," said Del. Nic Kipke (R-Pasadena).
The bill would provide additional funding for mental health services like counseling and mediation. He hopes that the money would help schools hire new counselors or extend current services to help children who are struggling before their issues develop into disciplinary problems.
"You can’t educate if you don’t have discipline in the school," Kipke said. "It's becoming an increasing pressure on teachers and educators to maintain discipline."
He said the shooting in Newtown, CT, in December added an urgency to this legislation, but he thinks it would be important to expand these services regardless.
The proposed bill would also pay for a resource officer, who would be armed, for every public school in the state.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools have resource officers at all 12 high schools and 9 of its 19 middle schools, said spokesman Bob Mosier.
"Expanding that I think is necessary whether or not this horrific incident happened in Connecticut," Kipke said. "We need to give teachers that resource of having an officer who can get involved early before something becomes dangerous."
Mosier said he couldn't comment on the specific merits of the bill because the school board will need to meet and review the legislation.
"What I can tell you is that we have been for many years and continue to be in discussions with a variety of agencies about ways to maintain and enhance school security," Mosier said. "Certainly we are more than willing to be a part of that conversation moving forward."
He noted that he believes the county has an "excellent working relationship" with the Anne Arundel County Police Department, which employs resource officers in area high schools and middle schools.
Kipke said part of the goal of this bill is to expand that kind of relationship to all schools across the state.