MADISON, Wis. — There was a time when communities took school safety as a granted, but now states like Wisconsin are offering grants for school safety.
Beginning this week, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) started accepting applications for a raft of new school safety grants, which come as part of a bill Gov. Scott Walker inked in March 2018.
Spurred by the events at Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, Walker’s bill includes the genesis of an Office of School Safety under the states’ DOJ, which will oversee the granting procedure. Total monies allocated for the school safety grants totals $100 million, reported the Seattle Times.
“I credit the bipartisan group of Wisconsin State legislators and Gov. Walker for quickly turning our proposed School Safety Program into action items,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel in a statement released on the DOJ website. “The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of School Safety will be established immediately and staffed by existing agency personnel until a permanent director is hired. I look forward to providing necessary training and resources to make our children safer and welcome these significant responsibilities because I know that DOJ is best suited to provide public safety leadership and expertise.”
Eligible schools include both public and private K-12 institutions. Each must provide a comprehensive safety plan and practice annual school safety drills. Key among the application criteria is a mandate that schools provide their full-time teachers and aides, as well as counselors and administration staff with at least three hours of training on dealing with youth in trauma. This training must occur before the end of the 2018-19 school year or be proven to have previously occurred. Likewise, applying schools are expected to partner with a police agency to vouchsafe the efficacy of their prospective plans and planned spending.
Grants are geared toward either helping schools take basic safety measures although more advanced upgrades are acceptable once minimum security measures are met. Grants will be distributed in June of this year.