Congress Sends Landmark Legislation to President’s Desk
NAPT®'s Involvement and Guidance for Members
What's the News? Congress passed and the President has signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This legislation was negotiated over several weeks following two mass shootings at a market in Buffalo, NY and at a school in Uvalde, TX.
Significantly, the bill would allocate some $13.2 billions of dollars to schools and communities for expanding mental health programs. The funding also aims to boost school safety, granting $300 million over five years for school safety programs targeting violence that would fund school resource officers and beef up security in schools. In addition, funding would go to training school personnel and adults who interact with minors to respond to mental health issues.
The legislation also contains several provisions related to:
- Enhanced background checks for younger gun purchasers;
- Incentives for states to enact ‘red flag' laws that preclude those deemed dangerous by a judge from keeping their guns;
- Stiffer penalties for illegal or ‘straw' purchases of guns;
- Enhanced federal and local collaboration around gun trafficking, and more.
Key provisions for our awareness, the legislation provides funds for several school-based mental health and related services, including:
- $250 million, Community Violence Intervention Programs
- $300 million, STOP School Violence Programs
- $240 million, Project AWARE
- $40 million, National Child Traumatic Stress Networks
- $1.0 billion, Safe and Healthy Students Program (includes funds for training school personnel)
- $500 million, School-based mental health services
Schools across the nation will be exploring effective ways to utilize these funds. While transportation settings are not specifically addressed in the legislation, it does not preclude activities supported by the funds to include and involve school bus safety teams in accordance with local needs.
NAPT® Advocacy: NAPT® is pleased to have joined AASA (The School Superintendents Association) and dozens of other education and mental health organizations in a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate expressing our support for the enactment of this legislation. Our partnership with the AASA brings us into relationships with a broad spectrum of partners and an opportunity to enhance NAPT®'s brand awareness and recognition, and the work that our industry leaders do to keep our children safe en route to their schools and homes.
What to do next? Transportation administrators should:
- Discuss this federal funding with their school leadership and determine ways to ensure that school bus drivers and your safety teams are involved in any ‘social-emotional learning' training programs, or ‘trauma-informed' programs developed or conducted at your schools. The need to get our drivers involved in such activities was underscored in the article “A Moment of Trauma” in the June issue of School BUSRide.
- Be aware of the funding for “STOP School Violence” which could be utilized for ‘hardening' schools as targets. It is unclear whether these funds could be useful for securing school transportation facilities and buses as well. We will provide additional information on that in the coming days.
- Consider attending the NAPT® Road Show in Nashville TN on October 12-14, 2022, where there will be a session on “Emergency Preparedness and Response” as well as a session on the “Impact of New Federal Policies on School Transportation.” Both will provide additional insights and ideas related to this funding and these issues.
Additional information will be provided in future editions of School BUSRide magazine, the organization's official publication, and other NAPT® communications.