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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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U.S. School Safety Grants on the Rise: Minnesota, Rhode Island, & Georgia

School
Photo by Creative Commons
School

Many states are disbursing millions in awards for much-needed safety improvements. These awards, provided by the United States Department of Education, focus on campus security and student safety. These improvements take various forms across state and district. Here’s a look at some of the $500k+ grants being awarded across the country.

 

Minnesota aims to improve 100+ schools

The Minnesota Department of Education recently announced $25 million in safety grants for 123 school buildings spread over 90 districts and charter systems. Over a two year disbursement period, the selected facilities will receive their grants. These awards range in size from $2,300 to the department’s maximum of $500,000. This ensures regular project reviews and proper use of awarded funds.

A number of the schools are using the funding to either invest in or upgrade an existing school security system while others are making infrastructure improvements and addressing general safety concerns. Heather Nessler, the Rochester Public School spokeswoman, says the funds will be allocated towards improving both door alarms and communications systems at two district schools, Franklin Elementary and the Rochester Alternative Learning Center.

Goodhue Public School in Goodhue, Minnesota was nearly awarded the maximum grant amount to execute a project entailing the renovation of the school’s entrance. The school building is nearly a century old and serves the entirety of the district’s student body. The awarded funds are also being used to retrofit all of the building’s exterior doors to enhance its physical security measures.

Department of Justice awards Rhode Island security funds

As part of the STOP School Violence Act, the Department of Justice recently selected more than 220 jurisdictions nationwide to receive a combined $70 million in funding, $800,000 of which will go to several Rhode Island districts. These grants are need-based, to provide schools with expanded safety training, access to better security technology including in-school hybrid cloud video surveillance systems and camera networks, and further support for existing crisis intervention teams.

The $800,000 is to be spread across four primary locations throughout the state. Barrington Public Schools are being awarded $55,342, the Town of West Warwick is to receive $38,000, the Town of Smithfield is slated for the largest portion of the grant at $454,000, and Providence’s police department is due $250,000. While specific projects are still being discussed by officials, the school districts in particular have expressed interest in technological upgrades to monitor and prevent physical security threats.

Georgia slated for $2.5 Million in federal funding

As part of the same Department of Justice initiative, the state of Georgia is on the list to receive just over $2.5 million to invest in upgraded school security measures. The funds will be disbursed through three primary streams: the Bureau of Justice’s STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program, the STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program, and the COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program.

“I appreciate the awards made to the systems in our State for the three programs. They are all issues that we have covered in our meetings and are important. We look forward to working with and learning from the systems who received these awards,” Representative Rick Jasperse said.

Fulton County is the only Georgia jurisdiction receiving Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program funds totaling $184,935. This grant is intended to be used for training to create and operate much-needed threat assessment teams as well as crisis intervention teams. Funds are also set aside for developing the technology for a potential local or regional anonymous tip line and reporting system. It’s unsure if this technology will take the form of an app, a traditional hotline, or a website.

Several Georgia schools are receiving a combined total of $622,295 through the Prevention and Mental Health Training Program, including schools in the aforementioned Fulton County. The majority of funds being disbursed are through the COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program. Georgia is set to receive around $1.2 million. These funds are intended for law enforcement training, technological upgrades for faster law enforcement notification such as security equipment and camera installation, and law enforcement coordination with local schools.

An Eye on Safety

Both federal and state-level grants are necessary to ensure that America’s schools remain safe for students. With the recent uptick in school security spending and grant allocation, taxpayers can rest easy knowing their children and communities are being better protected. The Department of Justice’s initiative as well as the STOP School Violence Act are promising steps towards school systems that are better protected from violent incidents as well as cyber security threats.

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