IDAHO, USA — The Idaho State Board of Education started distributing the $20 million state lawmakers allocated last legislative session to public schools and public charter schools wanting to improve their security systems.
The “Securing our Future” grant money can only be spent on “durable” and “meaningful” changes, said Mike Munger, the Idaho State Board school safety and security program manager.
“The allowable expenditures are things like fixing doors, fencing, surveillance equipment, fire alarm systems, nothing flashy or exciting,” he said, “just basic things we need to be able to keep kids safe.”
Munger said each school can get $20,000. Although, districts have to apply for the money before the beginning of October. So far, the State Board has received about 60 applications and approved about $2 million.
The Boise School District got a little more than $860,000, spokesperson Dan Hollar said. He said the grant money will “make a huge difference.”
Hollar said the district plans to improve mobile communication between schools in case of an emergency, increase security measures at certain entrances, and revamp alarm and video surveillance systems.
“This will help us improve those older buildings, continue to monitor those safety and security procedures, and make improvements where we need to,” Hollar said.
It is a similar story with the Caldwell-based Vallivue School District. Spokesperson Joey Palmer said every school in the district now has a security system built into the front of the building.
Office staff must buzz people in for added safety. Palmer also said they are using the grant money to add fencing at all schools.
“We’re just thankful that we have the funding available to upgrade our buildings and keep our kids safe,” Palmer said.
Hollar said improving safety measures has been a big priority for educators over the last few years. He believes it takes the whole community to ensure students and staff are safe.
If people see something odd around a school, Hollar said they should notify an official immediately.
“We need to be vigilant,” he said, “We need to remind ourselves that we live in our community that is growing, that we need to continue to be involved. We need to all look out for one another.”
Munger said not all roughly 800 schools will need the money since newer schools are more likely to have better safety features built in. Districts who already got money or plan on getting money can also reapply again in a few months.
He encourages parents to ask if, and how, their kids’ schools plan to improve safety this upcoming school year.
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