On Capitol Hill and throughout the United States there are more than 100 pieces of legislation in motion to improve school safety. Some of the bills are years away from implementation, while others call for new rules but provide no funding. Still, certain federal legislation could end up impacting your school’s next round of budget appropriations.
Because facility managers know what their schools need to keep children safe, it’s important for them to be aware of, and understand, potential funding sources. So to help you understand what funding sources may be available for security, infrastructure, and technology improvements, this article will review the most pressing federal legislation and highlight a few notable state bills.
The STOP School Violence Act
On the same day that thousands of students protested to demand Congressional action on school safety, the House of Representatives passed the STOP School Violence Act. This bill was the first to pass in the House since the Parkland shooting, although it had been in process several weeks before.
According to TIME, the bill provides $50 million per year to:
- Create and operate ”anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and internet websites.”
- Improve school security infrastructure.
- Develop training to prevent violence.
What FMs need to know:The STOP School Violence act essentially reestablishes funding for Secure our School Grants which were previously used to provide funding specifically for school security equipment and technology.
The funding will be provided through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
BJA will provide grants for training, threat reporting systems, and threat assessment programs. COPS will provide grants for security measures and coordination with local law enforcement. According to SIA(Security Information Association), COPS emphasizes grant use for the acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.
Federal Appropriations Bills
In this year’s round of federal budget appropriations, the Education Department is getting the largest boost they’ve seen in years. Especially, when it comes to school safety. In total, the Education Department would get $70.9 billion, a 5.5 percent increase. This includes more than $1 billion specifically earmarked for school safety.
According to The 74 Million, the school safety money is provided through Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act to fund efforts aimed at “providing safe, healthy learning environments.”
What FMs need to know: Funds are available through Student Support and Academic Enhancement Grants (SSAEC). These funds are allocated to each state based on a formula, then to each local education agency based on the same formula.
As mentioned, the use of these funds is broad. However, depending on how much a school is eligible to receive, schools may be legally required to use a portion of the funds for things other than school safety. For details on eligibility, how to apply, and more, visit the grants section of the Department of Education website.
State Legislation on School Safety
As of April 5th, 200 bills or resolutions addressing school safety had been introduced in 39 different states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These bills address a variety of school safety issues including:
- Developing emergency response plans
- Requiring emergency drills
- Improving building security
- Training school resource officers
- Increasing availability of mental health services
- Arming staff members
Many of these bills are in various phases of the legislative process. To provide facility managers with a glimpse into what’s happening around the country, here’s a sampling of state bills, some of which have already become law:
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act
Signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on March 9th, the law outlines new requirements for emergency preparedness, threat assessment and gun purchasing, according to Campus Safety Magazine.
Perhaps most relevant for FMs, the new law requires emergency policies that identify the people responsible for contacting first responders and establishing notification procedures. The new law also provides $99 million in funding to address specific safety needs.
New School Safety Legislation for Maryland Schools
The new bill, signed into law in early April, requires Maryland schools to implement threat assessment programs as well as emergency drills and documentation. This law will also require that each public school update their emergency plans by July 1st, 2020, according to Campus Safety Magazine.
Other State Legislation Overview
The vast majority of state legislation is yet to be finalized; however, facility managers responsible for emergency plans, drills, and security systems should be aware of the following:
- Emergency Plan Changes:12 states have introduced proposals to mandate or change emergency plan procedures.
- New Drills and Training Requirements: 8 states have new proposals that require regular emergency drills. Some of those proposals require coordination between schools and local law enforcement.
- Security System Improvements: 13 states have proposals calling for improved security infrastructure
A New Era of School Safety
After far too many horrific acts of violence at our nation’s schools, state and federal legislators are finally stepping up. In the past, funds for school security technology, infrastructure and training have fallen victim to competing priorities.
But it seems as though that’s changing. While many of the details related to funding for state legislation are still being hammered out, it’s vital to keep monitoring the legal situation in your state.
With the prospect of securing funding for school safety technology, it makes sense to explore how using a solution such as ARC Emergency & Life Safety can solidify and enhance school safety programs.
From floods and fires to active shooters, ARC’s technology empowers facility managers with information management for emergency preparedness and responsiveness.
View a short video introduction now to see how ARC can help, or get a live demo: