UniteGPS – No longer postponed, last week the Colorado Senate finally approved $5 billion in initial funding for a comprehensive student safety bill.
In February the UniteGPS team covered the early stages of Bill SB22-085, now known as Anna’s Law in remembrance of 11-year-old Annaliese Backner run over by her own school bus this past March. Years in the making based on past tragedies, Senator Don Coram introduced the bill in January as part of the Colorado Safe Student Protection Program.
Fast forward to April 6 and Senator Coram submitted an amendment to the state budget alongside Senator James Coleman to launch an extensive grant program for school bus safety initiatives. Funds will reportedly come from Colorado’s 20 percent budget surplus. Sources say that Anna’s Law would request $13.5 million over three years if approved. Now it must pass the Colorado House before Governor Jared Polis signs it into law.
“Thank you, senators, for restoring my faith in the priorities of our state’s leadership,” said Anna’s mother, Leandra Backner, in a School Transportation News article. “If Anna were here today, she would want to hug you all and thank you for helping her friends get to school and home safely every day. God Bless you for protecting our children.”
There’s more to Anna’s Law than just cracking down on vehicles illegally passing stationary school buses. For example, the first allotment of $5.5 million would fund the installation of new technology on Colorado school buses, such as stop-arm cameras and a parental app notification system. This way, parents will know when their children’s bus is arriving or late for pick-ups.
School districts will also receive new resources to offer optional training for bus drivers under the Transportation Security Administration’s First Observer Plus program. Reports say that funds will also support school districts in recruiting and training new drivers amid a hiring shortage, in addition to a “No Bullies On Board” campaign.