A pair of bills that offer safety measures for schools authored by state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, are headed to the Senate floor for a vote, the legislator’s office announced Friday.
Senate Bill 643 would create the Safe-To-Tell Program, which would require local school districts to establish an anonymous reporting system for “any person to anonymously report any dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity that is being conducted or threatened to be conducted” on a campus or a school event, according to the law.
The second bill, SB 868, would require every classroom in the state to have a trauma kit by the start of the 2024-25 school year.
In a statement announcing the bill’s progress out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, WIlk said both bills were inspired by conversations he had with local students impacted by the 2019 school shooting at Saugus High School, which left three students dead, including the shooter, and four others wounded.
“After the Saugus High School shooting, I was deeply affected while listening to students share stories about the struggles they endure every single day. They face challenges that did not even exist when I was growing up,” Wilk said. “The tragic reality is that no community is immune to what happened at Saugus High. That is why it is so important we not dismiss threats of violence, and ensure our teachers have what they need to help save lives.”
SB 643 is similar to Assembly Bill 312, which was initially introduced in 2022 by Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita. However, that bill ultimately was put on hold.
Both versions raised concerns about pressure on the state’s education budget, as funding for the programs wouldn’t be allowed to count toward the state’s Proposition 98 obligation, a 1988 law that requires California to fund schools at a certain level.
The law calls for the state to fund the local agency’s reporting systems if the law passes and the Commission on State Mandates determines the cost to be a mandate.
The bill, which is eligible for a floor vote Monday, has the support of 19 unions for local police agencies and no registered opposition, per the bill’s analysis from the Senate Educaton Committee.
SB 868’s trauma-kit requirement “could lead to a one-time Proposition 98 general fund cost pressure ranging from $9.8 million to $23.4 million statewide,” according to the bill’s analysis in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
That assumes a cost of about $50 to $100 per kit, which is expected to include: one tourniquet; one bleeding control bandage; one pair of non-latex protective gloves and a marker; one pair of scissors; and approved instructional documents. The projected figure doesn’t include any potential costs associated with training for the usage of the kits.
That bill is also eligible for a floor vote Monday.