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Region's schools get almost $1 million in Tenn. school safety grants

Staff Reports • Sep 29, 2018 at 6:30 PM

NASHVILLE — Tennessee grants totaling a combined $926,310 for school districts represented by state Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, are being awarded.

According to a news release from Lundberg, the grants to improve school safety and security include $267,710 in Safe School grants, which are recurring funds, and $658,600 in School Safety and Security grants, which are one-time funds. This year the General Assembly included $35 million in the 2018-19 state budget for school safety, following recommendations from Gov. Bill Haslam’s School Safety Working Group.

“The safety of our students is a top priority,” said Lundberg, who supported the funds which were approved by the General Assembly in April. “These grants focus on key security needs as identified in a thorough assessment of risks. I am very pleased the funds are now available.”

The grants for Senate District 4:

— Kingsport City Schools is receiving $62,732 in recurring funds and $155,940 in non-recurring funds for vehicle control, signage and classroom security. The system will spend a total of $96,500 in recurring money and one-time money of $241,300, as previously reported, but the higher numbers include the required local match, Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True said Thursday.  

— Sullivan County Schools is receiving $84,487 in recurring funds and $201,420 in non-recurring funds for access control, visitor management and communication. Beyond the state grants, the county school system and sheriff’s office are funding 14 additional school resource officers beyond the current four, putting one in each building or combined elementary-middle school campuses.

— Bristol Tennessee Schools is receiving $33,500 in recurring funds and $83,750 in non-recurring funds to address behavioral and mental health positions and surveillance.

— Carter County Schools is receiving $60,300 in recurring funds and $150,760 in non-recurring funds to address perimeter and access control and to support school resource officers.

— Johnson County Schools is receiving $26,690 in recurring funds and $66,730 in non-recurring funds to provide surveillance, classroom security and emergency planning.

In order to apply for grant funding, local school officials partnered with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Department of Education, and local law enforcement to complete safety assessments for school facilities and safety procedures. This was the first time the state led a comprehensive effort to determine the security needs at individual schools. Based on the findings following this assessment, all school districts were eligible to apply for two grants to receive funding for local safety and security needs.

In addition, as a result of the working group recommendations, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is working to secure a developer to complete a statewide school safety mobile application. The application will be designed for use by students, faculty and staff to anonymously report concerning or suspicious behavior to local law enforcement and school officials.

“I appreciate the work of our local officials for helping to secure these funds and for promptly completing the assessments with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Department of Education,” Lundberg said. “I look forward to continuing to partner with them to keep our students safe.”

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