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Federal budget may yield school safety funding: Be ready, assess your needs

Good news! President Barack Obama recently released his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal and it includes "school safety" as one of four key areas of focus for K-12 reform. The school safety portion of the U.S. Department of Education budget contains multiple provisions and new funding programs focused on student mental health, school climate and improving conditions for learning. Of course, this is just a proposal and the divided Congress will eventually have to provide the funding during the regular appropriations process.

Key proposals included in the $112 million 'school safety" section of the president's budget for the U.S. Department of Education:
  • $30 million for Emergency Management Grants – for states to help schools develop and implement emergency management plans
  • $50 million for School Climate Transformation Grants – for school districts and states to implement evidence-based interventions to improve school climate and prevent bullying and other issues
  • $25 million for Project Prevent Grants – for school districts to provide social and emotional supports and mental health services
These three sections are part of a larger $280 million "Successful, Safe and Healthy Students" program that was first rolled-out as part of the president's "Blueprint for ESEA Reauthorization" several years ago.

Two important and related proposals that are found elsewhere in the budget:
  • $150 million at the U.S. Department of Justice for a Comprehensive School Safety Program, including hiring of school police officers, school psychologists, social workers and counselors.
  • $55 million at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education)
Feel free to visit www.ed.gov/school-safety for more detailed information about the president's proposals. A 56-page "budget justification" document is also available at www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget14/justifications/f-sss.pdf.

NOW IS THE TIME to act locally. If your community is discussing this topic, and with the possibility that federal funding may be appropriated to help states address school security concerns, it's important for our industry to be active players — not bystanders. We urge you not to wait to be called. We encourage you think about measures that would be beneficial to further improve the safety and security of your operation and be prepared to discuss and advocate for them at the local level.

We are a critical part of the educational system, and whatever is done affects us. We recommend you initiate involvement on your own — don't wait for a call that might not come. Act now, grab a seat at the table and let your voice be heard. more


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