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Task force recommends changes to Arizona school safety grant program | #schoolsaftey

As tens of millions of school safety grant dollars remain available due to a lack of staff, a task force commissioned by the Arizona Department of Education on Thursday recommended that legislators create more avenues to spend the funds. 

State law says the School Safety Program, which awards $80 million in competitive grants to school districts and charter schools in three-year cycles, can only apply its funds to four positions: school resource officers, juvenile probation officers, school counselors or social workers. School resource officers are police officers assigned full-time to schools.

An El Mirage school resource officer participates in an active shooter training exercise inside a classroom at West Point Elementary School in Surprise on June 21, 2023.

But, about one-third of the more than 870 grant recipients this cycle could not find staff to fill their desired positions, according to the education department.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about, ‘How do we get school resource officers in schools when there is clearly a need that outstrips the capacity to supply officers,” said Michael Kurtenbach, the Arizona Department of Education’s director of school safety.

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