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Organizers protest outside gun show in Crown Point

Organizers tie orange ribbons with names of school shooting victims since Columbine on Saturday on a fence at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is asking legislative leaders to allocate $5 million for additional school safety grants before the General Assembly adjourns for the year on Wednesday.

In a letter sent Friday to House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, the Republican chief executive said the extra money, coming on top of the $9 million Indiana already annually spends on school safety grants, will enable the state to cover all the requests it received this year.

"These funds may be used to tailor the needs of each school or school corporation through matching grants," Holcomb said. "I have also learned that a significant portion of the appropriation is used for school resource officers every year."

Holcomb told the lawmakers that he's directed state homeland security officials to work with the Department of Education to develop by Aug. 1 a comprehensive set of recommendations "to help prepare all schools for today's unique threats."

In addition, he's advised state police to spread the word about Indiana's "Red Flag" law that allows weapons to be seized from individuals found by a judge to be "dangerous."

"There is no time to waste," Holcomb said.

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At the same time, the governor commended Hoosier legislators for already requiring every public school in the state to have a certified school safety specialist and regularly updated school safety plan, and said he looks forward to working on additional school safety proposals.

At least two such measures are likely to advance next week to the governor's desk for enactment.

House Bill 1230 would mandate that charter schools and private schools that accept voucher students also devise school safety plans, and Senate Bill 303 would have safety experts at the Department of Education regularly audit each school safety plan and recommend improvements.

Bosma said he's confident that the General Assembly also will be able to move existing funds to cover the governor's $5 million school safety grant request.

He said lawmakers additionally are looking at allowing schools to obtain low-interest loans from the state's Common School Fund if they don't receive a safety grant or want to spend more than their award.

"Every local official needs to be focused on this, as do state officials," Bosma said. "Every school needs to be a safe place."

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