Did you know that you could potentially use grant money to purchase an electronic visitor management system and improve security at your school?
Preventing violence at schools and improving the safety of our children is top-of-mind these days. In response, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a grant for $70 million to support school safety in October 2018. According to the press release issued by the DOJ, the grant is meant “to bolster school security, educate and train students and faculty, and support law enforcement officers and first responders who arrive on the scene of a school violence incident.”
In addition, the DOJ awarded more than $64 million to state agencies “to improve the completeness, quality and accessibility of the nation’s criminal record system, which will help law enforcement and increase the effectiveness of background checks.” The funds will be distributed through a variety of programs in each school district.
For example, the Michigan State Police (MSP) formed the Competitive School Safety Grant Program. In 2018, this program gave 114 public school districts, 42 non-public schools, 22 public charter schools and 10 intermediate school districts $25 million in state grants to purchase equipment or technology to improve safety and security of school buildings, students and staff.
“These grants are part of the proactive approach the state is taking to help prevent tragedies in our schools and provide for the safe learning environment that our kids need and deserve,” said former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “A multifaceted approach is necessary to keep our schools safe and these grants are a component of the comprehensive effort to keep Michigan school children safe.”
Boost Security with an Electronic Visitor Management System
One of the most effective ways to improve your school’s security is with an electronic visitor management system. These powerful, yet simple systems boost security, while improving efficiency and record keeping. Consider the following benefits:
- An electronic visitor management system quickly and easily scans a visitor’s government-issued identification (e.g., a driver’s license), instantly confirming that they are who they say they are.
- It checks the visitor’s identity against national registered sex offender lists, as well as school records regarding child custody issues or banned individuals.
- The system prints out an ID badge, which includes a photo, date and time, and creates an electronic record that is accessible on- or off-site by web-based systems in case of an emergency or evacuation.
- An automated system frees up your busy front-desk staff to handle tasks other than monitoring outdated handwritten sign-in sheets and issuing name tags. It also prevents manual errors.
- School policies and procedures are easier to adhere to with these systems in place, because they reduce time and improve compliance dramatically.
- Records regarding visitors, volunteers, staff and students can be easily maintained and compiled using electronic visitor management systems. Multiple export options make it easy to import this data into your Student Information System.
- These systems send a strong message to parents, students, staff and the community that your school makes safety a top priority and handles visitors in a professional manner.
- Finally, these systems are surprisingly easy to install and use – and more affordable than you might think.
You can view school security as “layers” that build on each other to provide the safest possible environment. An electronic visitor management system provides a solid foundation.
Applying for Grant Money
Since these grants became available, schools across the country have taken advantage of funds to provide safety training and take a variety of measures to improve school security. Districts that were most successful in receiving grant money highlighted the age of their current security systems and the need for updating. Obviously, older schools were built during a time when security was not emphasized as it is today.
Working with a team also improves a school’s success in obtaining grant money. In the case of the Michigan schools, the districts worked with school resource officers, county offices of Homeland Security, teachers and building administration when developing applications. The MSP review committee also gave priority to proposals that “sought to secure access points at school buildings, as it is considered one of the best and most cost-effective ways to improve school safety and security.”
It’s an unfortunate reality for many schools around the country that there is not enough money in the budget to meet every school need. However, safety is too important to not take advantage of any available funding.
When applying for grants, a good place to start is Grants.gov, which is the central portal for finding grant opportunities. This portal is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and allows users to search for funding using keywords, such as “school security.” Be sure to read the individual grant criteria before applying.
Specifically, there are a number of programs at the federal and state levels that provide grants for school safety. For instance, the new STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and its programs makes $50 million available each year until 2028, and focuses on three programs:
- Prevention and mental health training
- Threat assessment and technology reporting
- School violence prevention
The School Violence Prevention program provides funding for school safety measures including:
- Coordination with law enforcement
- Training to recognize and prevent events of student violence
- Installation of deterrent measures
- Purchase of technology for expedited notification of law enforcement during an emergency
- Other measures determined to provide a significant improvement in security
To search for specific grants, go to https://efficientgov.com/blog/2018/12/13/the-2019-school-safety-funding-roundup/. You can also visit www.bja.gov or www.cops.usdoj.gov..
At LobbyGuard, we believe that we can make schools safer by taking a multi-faceted approach and working together. LobbyGuard offers a full line of visitor management and front office automation products, including self-service kiosks as well as software-only solutions. If you are applying for a grant and would like to include data and pricing regarding an automated visitor system, please give us a call at 1-866-905-6229.
“Schools get grants to improve security,” by Jeremy Ervin, Port Huron Times Herald, Nov. 7, 2018.
“The Department of Justice announced a grant for $70 million to support school safety and $64 million to improve state criminal record systems,” CS Staff Press Release, October 4, 2018.
“The 2019 School Safety Funding Roundup,” EfficientGov, December 13, 2018.
“$25 Million in State Grant Funding Awarded to Support School Safety Initiatives in Michigan.” Press Release, MSP Grants and Community Services Division, October 31, 2018.