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Be Aware of Available Money for School Security Grants

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 09, 2013

This year has been active for legislation regarding school security at the state, local and federal levels. So far this year, legislation has been considered – and in many cases signed into law – that would fund the purchase and installation of security devices for schools in a number of states.

Examples at the state level include a law in North Dakota that provides $3 million in funds for purchase, installation and maintenance of equipment for school security, while the state of Washington passed a law requiring installation of a perimeter security system at schools statewide.

In Connecticut – where the Sandy Hook shootings took place in December 2012 – a bill created a "School Building Projects Advisory Council” to look at how school buildings will be secured. It also calls for the state to develop school security and safety standards by January 2014, and set aside $15 million in state grants through 2015 that will reimburse towns for developing or improving security infrastructure and school personnel training.

Most recently, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia announced that $6 million will be used to improve safety and security for students in 459 schools statewide. The funds will pay for security equipment, including video monitoring systems, metal detectors, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems and communications systems providing direct links between schools and law enforcement agencies.

Not to be outdone, several bills have been introduced in Congress seeking to provide federal grants to school districts for security.

  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 1470, the School Safety Enhancement Act, which provides for reauthorization of an Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street law that expired in 2009. It would allocate millions of dollars in federal grants to schools for purchase and installation of surveillance equipment, metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures. Security assessments and training are a part of these grant purposes.

  • Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) introduced H.R.2583 with similar provisions to enhance school security, including emergency notification and response technology. Both bills are pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

  • The Senate recently passed S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, which includes $40 million annually in school security grants for the next five years. However, that bill is pending in the House, and may not pass because of added provisions relating to gun control and other issues not related to school security.

These federal efforts will continue through the 113th Congress, which adjourns at the end of 2014.

Regardless of whether funds originate in the state capital, through federal grants from Washington, D.C., or even at city, town or county levels, ESA members and Chartered Chapters are urged to become aware of their existence, and to become more involved in school security opportunities. Use ESA's Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools as a framework for connecting with the community.

This issue affects not only your family, but your neighbors, colleagues, customers and the entire community. As trained, knowledgeable security professionals, ESA members can influence school district and individual school decisions in a number of ways.

One example is through PTA activities at elementary and secondary schools. ESA members and chapters can urge PTA members – as well as school administrators, school boards and other officials at the local level – to support responsible and professional acquisition, installation and maintenance of security equipment, as well as implementation of security procedures if applicable.

On a national level, the ESA is cooperating with the Security Industry Association (SIA) in its Safe Schools Industry Group, working together as a resource for school officials and law enforcement on critical school security solutions. Some of the leading security company officials are participating in this industry group.

Be aware of legislation and funds that become available for your schools. Be active in deciding how these funds are used, and use your qualifications and expertise to help your schools protect the students, faculty and administrators under their care.

Tags:  government funding  school security 

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