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La Crosse leaders consider what safety funding means for area schools

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Wisconsin's governor is expected to sign a package of bills that would give schools $100 million in grants to improve security. The state's Assembly passed the measures on Thursday, though some Democrats say it should have also addressed gun control. 

Under the legislation, schools could receive grants from the Department of Justice to make security improvements. 

"The problem is that only addresses schools, and it does nothing about keeping guns out of the wrong hands," said State Rep. Jill Billings, (D) La Crosse.  

Democrats had their own version of the package that would have also created universal background checks and a 48-hour waiting period. Many schools, including the La Crosse School District, already have security measures in place so they wouldn't necessarily be eligible for the grants. 

"Our district made the commitment years ago to making sure that cameras over entrances and people have to be buzzed in," Billings said. 

Officers are stationed at both public high schools and all three middle schools. 

"They're there to provide a safe and secure environement for the students as they come and go from school each day," said Sgt. Tom Walsh of the La Crosse Police Department.  

Part of Gov. Scott Walker's proposal that was removed from the package would have allowed schools to share surveillance with police. Schools can already do that. 

"With that working relationship that we have with our school district, we do have access to be able to monitor what's going on in the buildings," Walsh said. 

The officers stationed at the schools do go through additional training. Walsh says the department will be looking into whether or not there is additional funding to help these officers. 

"If there are additional opportunities through the bill that Governor Walker and the state Legislature have passed, we're certainly going to take a look at that and see what opportunities are out there for us," Walsh said. 


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