New Utah school safety law earns praise from victims’ families, but cost concerns persist

Apr 10, 2024, 4:29 PM | Updated: 9:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Family members who lost children in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history came to Utah to celebrate a new law aimed at making schools safer.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson ceremonially signed HB84 into law during an event Wednesday at the University of Utah. The new law does a lot, including requiring access to panic buttons that teachers can press if there’s an emergency. It also requires schools to have some sort of armed guard inside.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson signing HB84 into law.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson ceremonially signing HB84 into law. (KSL TV)

Loved ones of school shooting victims told KSL TV they believe the law will make a difference.

But there are also concerns about how these changes will be paid for.

Pushing for safer schools

Max Schachter and Lori Alhadeff don’t live in Utah but found themselves in Salt Lake City on Wednesday morning because of their children.

Holding photos of their children, they remembered the ninth graders – Alex Schachter and Alyssa Alhadeff – who were killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Max Schachter and Lori Alhadeff holding signs of the children they lost in the 2018 Parkland shooting.

Max Schachter and Lori Alhadeff holding signs of the children they lost in the 2018 Parkland shooting. (KSL TV)

“Alyssa was a soccer player,” Alyssa Alhadeff said, “vivacious, amazing, spunky girl.”

Max Schachter remembered his son’s love for marching band and basketball.

“He was just a little boy that loved Nutella crepes,” he said, “and he loved the band Chicago.”

Since that tragic day six years ago, Alyssa’s mom and Alex’s dad have been pushing for change. They’re happy Utah legislators passed HB84, which was recently signed into law.

“Most states don’t prioritize this issue until after a tragedy strikes,” Schachter said. “What Utah has done proactively means everything to protect schools.”

The bill sponsor, Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, said the new law is designed to get Utah schools into better shape before a tragedy happens. He also defended the provision requiring armed guards inside schools, while noting that the law allows for exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

“You have to have somebody that can intervene sooner,” Wilcox said, “when you have these people – frankly evil – that are bent on murdering their classmates.”

Concerns with costs

Despite the praise for HB84, there are concerns about how schools will pay for all the new requirements it imposes on them.

Ben Horsley with Granite School District told KSL TV the “philosophy and the approach” in the law are “great,” but the Legislature didn’t appropriate enough money to cover everything – like paying ongoing salaries for armed guards or shoring up security at school buildings.

“Granite School District has 87 buildings, so all of those first-floor windows must be covered in ballistics glass film that starts about $25 a square foot,” Horsley said.

Ben Horsley, the Communications and Community Outreach Director for Granite School District, speaking about the new law.

Ben Horsley, the Chief of Staff for Granite School District, speaks about the new law. (KSL TV)

Horsley said if the Legislature doesn’t pony up more money, the school district may have to look at raising taxes.

“We’re just not sure how we’re going to be able to pay for a lot of these very, very good, very important things,” he said, adding he hopes for more guidance from the state soon.

But at the core, the families of school shooting victims believe this new Utah law will save lives.

“We couldn’t save our kids, but by passing this piece of legislation, schools are safer today than they were yesterday,” said Schachter, holding the photo of his son alongside Alhadeff. “We believe that this is their legacy.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Safe Schools

[FILE] Jail Handcuffs (KSL-TV)...

Michael Houck

Man in custody after trying to kidnap a ‘young girl’ during track meet, police say

A local man is in jail for allegedly grabbing a girl against her will near Emery High School on Friday, according to the Emery County Sheriff's Office.

13 days ago

The new weapon detectors used by Salt Lake City School District (Scott G. Winterton/ Deseret News)...

Braden McElreath and Michael Houck, KSL TV

Survey: About 33% of Salt Lake City students do not believe weapons detectors make school safer

In April, Salt Lake City School District board members briefly reviewed survey results of the new weapons detectors that were placed in local schools.

15 days ago

The Payson Police Department on Wednesday said it and federal law enforcement partners are investig...

Logan Stefanish,

Local, federal law enforcement investigate bomb threats after ‘furry’ outrage at middle school

The Payson Police Department on Wednesday said it and federal law enforcement partners are investigating bomb threats made against Mt. Nebo Middle School.

22 days ago

A Payson police vehicle is pictured on Monday, March 22, 2021. Payson police are investigating seri...

Josh Ellis

Payson police, Nebo School District address threats against Mt. Nebo Middle School

The Nebo School District and Payson Police Department will address recent threats against Mt. Nebo Middle School that have disrupted classes three times over the last two weeks.

22 days ago

FILE PHOTO (Weber School District)...

Mary Culbertson

Four students at Roy High School charged after allegedly brandishing handgun

Four students were taken into custody after police said they flashed gang signs and brandished a loaded gun.

23 days ago

FILE PHOTO (Weber School District)...

Eliza Pace

District asks parents for help after Roy High School has 3 incidents with guns in 2 weeks

Weber School District is urging parents to talk to their kids about guns after Roy High School had three incidents in the past two weeks of students bringing guns on school property.

27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

New Utah school safety law earns praise from victims’ families, but cost concerns persist