By John Chwat
ESA Director of Government Relations
Are you active in your local school district? Do you attend school board meetings and know the agenda, especially when proposed contracts for security upgrades are going to be discussed?
Do you know the school board members and befriend officials in elementary and secondary schools in charge of security? Are you active in the PTA?
If you answered “no” to many of these questions you might be missing an opportunity for sales, installation and maintenance of security equipment in schools.
Recent school tragedies around the country have galvanized state legislatures to consider and pass funding opportunities for school security equipment. Take Indiana, as an example. Last month, Governor Mike Pence announced a $9 million grant funding initiative for more than 250 local schools under the state’s “Secured School Safety Grants.” A minimum of $5 million from the total is allocated to purchase school security equipment, and most awards are around $50,000 per school for schools who want security equipment.
In Connecticut last month, Governor Dannel Malloy announced a $21 million school security grant program to provide funds for security upgrades at 604 schools in the state. This funding includes costs for surveillance cameras, double door access, computer controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms and other devices.
In Texas, 2014 state funds assigned more than $55 million to upgrade video surveillance, access control and other technologies throughout 85 schools.
These are just a few examples of the millions of dollars allocated during this past year’s state funding cycle for school security equipment. Since state funds flow from your state capitol to the local school districts, there are key action items for ESA members to consider:
First, get connected to your local elementary and secondary school decision-makers. If you are already connected, be alert to funding for security upgrades.
Second, through your state chapter or on the web, watch for school security allocations by the state legislature. As most of these funds will be on a state-wide formula basis for schools to apply for, you will have advanced notice of these efforts. This will give you the opportunity to network in your local schools.
Third, ask for assistance from ESA’s Government Relations Director John Chwat (firstname.lastname@example.org) on any questions related to the process: how to access state budget information and how best to monitor your local school board – the school board ultimately approves these funding and purchasing requests.
Finally, present opportunities for security upgrades, maintenance and other services where appropriate. Connections are important in this regard. Remember—legislation can be turned into marketing opportunities if you just know where to look.