The state’s Secured School Safety Grants are changing this year and applications are expected to open soon, after lawmakers added more money to the fund and expanded how schools can use the money during the legislative session.
The General Assembly budgeted $19 million for the fund – a $5 million increase – though some, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, have shared concerns that it isn’t enough to fully support schools’ safety efforts with a growing pool of applicants.
Lawmakers also adjusted the grant matching requirements to allow more, smaller districts to participate.
Other changes mean if schools give teachers access to guns, they can now use the grants to pay for training. They can also use the funding for student and parent support programs.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Dave Hosick says a group of officials and educators wrote screener questions to hone in on what that might look like, since the legislative definition was so broad.
“These questions will help determine whether a school district is moving forward or has a sound strategic plan to deal with wellness issues in the school,” he says.
Schools can also use the funding to cover start up costs for an “active event” warning system to quickly spread information to emergency responders and their communities. Another change to the funding rules also now requires schools to complete a threat assessment by 2021 to remain eligible.
Hosick says schools are already showing higher interest in the grants – he says more schools are registered in the system now than there were grants awarded last year.