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The North Dakota State Senate on Friday passed a bill that would allow school districts to develop school safety plans and collect additional property taxes to fund them.

The Senate easily passed Senate Bill 2052 on a margin of 43-3. A number of amendments were attached to the bill, including requiring school districts to consult with qualified electors in developing a plan and exempting "aspects of the plan addressing the security of students" from state open records laws.

The bill would allow districts to assess five mills for the school safety plan, which would be deposited into a special fund. The additional property taxes wouldn't be associated with the restrictions in the K-12 funding formula.

Left to the discretion of the district and electors, the funding could cover the hiring of an school resource officer or a mental health professional. Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott, primary sponsor of the bill, said during a hearing before the Senate Education Committee last week that the bill is "one tool" districts can use to improve school safety.

The plan must be approved by a majority of voters in a regular or special school district election and it would be reauthorized every five years.

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter