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How Rural and Urban K–12 Schools Find the Funds for Physical Safety | #schoolsaftey

Local education agencies put $2.4 billion toward physical and health safety efforts from the federal government’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund — launched to provide K–12 support during the pandemic — in fiscal year 2021. They also have plans to spend an additional $18.5 billion on these efforts, according to the Department of Education.

However, with deadlines rapidly approaching to spend remaining ESSER funds, many districts may need to look for other ways to pay for future physical security improvements.

Some states have designated funding specifically for school safety needs. Missouri Gov. Michael Parson, for instance, included a $20 million provision for physical security enhancements and other safety measures in his fiscal year 2023 early supplemental budget request.

In May, the governor announced 169 district and charter school applicants would receive a portion of the funding; among them, the Fort Osage R-1 School District, which encompasses both suburban and rural areas in Independence, Mo.

The district plans to use its share of the funds, approximately $400,000, on updating and expanding its inventory of more than 300 security cameras. The cameras will be connected via Power over Ethernet and will operate with a central switch, according to Network Administrator Brett Carter.

New Axis cameras, used in tandem with Milestone video technology software, will let the district take advantage of higher resolution and metadata capabilities, says Steve Morgan, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

“These cameras allow us to do optical and pan-tilt-zoom,” Morgan says. “We can reduce glare and improve image quality, search for license plates and vehicle brands, and we can set up a speed zone on a camera. So, if an object goes through too quickly, an alert is sent and the data can be bookmarked for future reference.”

In districts of different sizes and geographical locations, the physical safety needs can vary widely, as can the fiscal resources.

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