North Elementary and MVED to each receive funds to improve building safety
State school safety grants totaling $139,000 were awarded to North Elementary and the Minnesota Valley Education District (MVED) recently which will be used for security enhancements and improving communications systems at both buildings.
North Intermediate will received $79,100 in grant funding while MVED will receive $59,900. Those were two of the 123 school building sites from around the state that were awarded funds from the $25 million in grants the Minnesota Department of Education awarded to 90 public school districts or charter schools. MDE received 1,187 complete applications, requesting $255.5 million in funding--more than 10 times the available amount of funding. Governor Dayton and the 2018 Legislature passed the school safety grants program this past spring.
“Students and teachers clearly need more support to ensure our kids are safe,” Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “When we have more than 1,000 schools asking for more than $250 million in funding to secure their buildings, we must respond with urgency. The school safety grants announced today only scratch the surface. A more comprehensive approach, including efforts to improve school climate, expand mental health services, and enact common-sense gun safety measures is needed.”
Grant funding applications for Saint Peter High School, Saint Peter Middle School, and South Elementary were also submitted, but they did not make the final list of awards.
“This is great news for those two locations in our district, and we are grateful to receive funding to help improve safety and security in those buildings,” Marc Bachman, Saint Peter Public Schools’ building and grounds supervisor, said. “However, if only 10 percent of the funding requests were met this year, we are hoping the state provides funding like this again next year because these are important upgrades for school districts across the state.”
Those projects that will receive grant funds at North and MVED include the following:
Unsecured exterior door notification system -- this helps monitors who is leaving the building through unsecured doors during the school day by sending notification to North’s office in the single point of entry area whenever one of these doors is opened. “This increases security and helps monitor students,” Bachman said. “When these notifications are sent out our office staff can then use our video system to figure out the situation.”
Electronic emergency notification system -- This includes an app that allows teachers a direct line of communication with the main office, in the case of emergency, other just the PA system. The app also allows teaching staff, during an emergency, to have cell phone access to the student roster and emergency handbook. Bachman added District 508 is looking to provide funding of its own to purchase this system for other three buildings.
Exterior communications system -- Purchase radios from the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office to provide direct contact with the Sheriff’s Office when necessary to improve communications with first responders. The high school and middle school currently have these systems and the district will look to purchase one for South so each site has this system in place.
Exterior and interior strobe lights -- these lights would be placed in louder parts of the building to help alert students and staff of a potential emergency situation and that information is being shared over the PA system.
“We still have to submit our actual plan to the state on what we will be doing with these grant funds and have them sign off before we can move forward on any of these safety and security improvements,” Bachman said. “Once that is done, most of these improvements will take place at some point next summer (2019), with the exception of the radios, which we can purchase at any time once we receive the grant funds.”
School safety grant program info
School districts across Minnesota were able to submit separate grant applications for each building. Due to the large number of applications received, high-priority projects submitted on the first day were assigned random numbers to determine the order of funding up to the available $25 million.
The final grant award values will be determined after recipients get complete bids from contractors. Schools were able to apply with qualifying projects for up to $500,000 per building. The Minnesota Department of Education, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Minnesota School Safety Center, determined grant eligibility based on project priority, with half of the grant funds available to schools outside of the 11-county metropolitan area.
High-priority projects included improvements to exterior entry security, such as access controls, keyless entry systems, door locking and glass integrity, door alarm systems, and structure changes to main entrances. Additions or improvements to communication systems, such as electronic emergency notification systems for staff and first responders, were also considered high-priority projects.
For more information on this program and to see a complete list of school districts receiving grants go to https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNMDE/bulletins/210a829