Georgia awarded $2.5 million in federal funds for school safety

Students make their way to class on the first day of school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS)

Students make their way to class on the first day of school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS)

Prompted by the school shooting on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. , federal officials Tuesday announced $70 million in grants to improve school safety.

The Trump Administration will allocate the grants through the Justice Department. The money will go to more than 40 states via dozens of law enforcement agencies, school districts, and other state and local institutions, including Georgia school districts.

Georgia schools will get more than $2.5 million through three funding streams:

The Bureau of Justice Assistance’s STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program will provide 68 awards valued at more than $19 million nationwide. Fulton County is the only Georgia district receiving one of those grants of $184,935. This money will support training to create and operate threat assessment and crisis intervention teams and to develop technology for local or regional anonymous reporting systems. This technology may be in the form of a mobile phone application, hotline, or website.

The STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program, will provide training and education on preventing violence and effectively responding to related mental health crises. This program will fund 85 awards at nearly $28 million. Georgia schools will receive $622,295, including $184,795 for Fulton schools, $187,500 for Savannah-Chatham schools and $250,000 for Richmond County.

The COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program will provide nearly $25 million to 91 jurisdictions for school safety measures including coordination with law enforcement, training for law enforcement to prevent student violence against others and self, target hardening measures, and technology for expedited notification of law enforcement during an emergency. The five Georgia school districts included will receive a combined amount of $1,768,550, including $370,826 for DeKalb schools, and the rest will go to Chatham, Coffee, Dade and Ben Hill county schools.

The grants are authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, which are intended to improve school security by helping students and teachers reduce exposure to risks, prevent acts of violence, and quickly recognize and respond to violent attacks.

The Justice Department is also investing over $1 million in research to better understand the factors behind mass shooting incidents. The grant awards, made by the Department’s National Institute of Justice, support scientific investigations that will examine factors that contribute to mass violence, identify any patterns in mass shootings, analyze psychological and social life histories of mass shooters and community-level predictors of mass violence, and will examine firearm purchasing patterns of known mass shooters in order to create a risk prediction tool.

Grantees can draw down funds after they’ve completed the necessary grant acceptance paperwork.

State efforts through House and Senate school safety study committees will be bolstered by these funds, said Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, head of the House Committee and Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, head of the Senate Committee.

“I appreciate the awards made to the systems in our State for the three programs. They are all issues that we have covered in our meetings and are important. We look forward to working with and learning from the systems who received these awards,” said Jasperse. He added that the funds are appreciated but the committee is looking at how funding will affect schools statewide.

Albers said: “Georgia has been working tirelessly to ensure all of our students, teachers, staff and parents are safe in our schools. Our Senate School Safety Study Committee is ready and willing to utilize all available funding from the federal and state level. We have been working hard and are excited to partner with all interested parties on securing as much funding as possible to ensure our schools are as safe.”

Just last month there have been two deaths and two injuries related to gun violence at schools in Rhode Island, Tennessee and Nevada according to media reports.

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