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Schumer: Cuts in school safety, anti-gun funds ‘senseless’

The Department of Education budget plan calls for cuts of $425 million to school safety and mental health assistance programs.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference in his Manhattan office on Jan. 28, 2018. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Amid bipartisan calls for safer schools after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed back on the 4 percent cut to the Department of Education’s spending, which he said decimates programs boosting school safety and gun violence prevention.

At a Sunday news conference, Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to return to Washington and work to undo what he described as “senseless” cuts of $425 million to school safety and mental health assistance programs, which were part of the 2019 federal budget proposal released on Feb. 12.

“We are in a time where we need to do more — not less — to ensure our schools have the resources, programming and the federal dollars to address everything from the safety and mental health of students, to support for teachers and administrators,” Schumer said.

A Department of Education representative could not be reached Sunday.

The department’s proposed budget of $63.2 billion cuts multiple grant programs supporting local school districts, such as the project prevent grant program, which allocates federal subsidies to help “identify, assess and serve students exposed to pervasive violence,” ensure access to mental health services for trauma, and establish school-based violence prevention strategies, according to the Department of Education website.

Among the swath of entire programs eliminated are $1.2 billion for before- and after-school summer programs and $400 million in student support and academic enrichment grants. The school emergency response to violence program, for which $2 million was allocated in 2017, would also be canceled.

Schumer said this program, which helps schools recover from violent or traumatic events, helped support Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after the 2012 shooting that claimed 20 lives.

“It is particularly troubling that we are in the midst of a national tragedy in Florida and having to talk about these cuts because the students impacted by the Parkland shooting are going to need the exact kinds of funding and support that Newtown received in the wake of that horrific shooting,” he added.

In a Feb. 12 release issued by the Department of Education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the budget “expands education freedom for America’s families while protecting our nation’s most vulnerable students” and puts students first. The release highlights a $1 billion increase for public and private school choice and $200 million for STEM education.

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