Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday (8/14/18) announced the first-ever statewide assessment of school facilities and safety procedures will be fully completed by the end of August, with unprecedented school security funding now available to school districts to implement identified school security and safety needs.
In March, the governor's School Safety Working Group recommended the statewide review of school facilities and safety procedures and precautions. The recommendation, accepted by the governor, led to immediate safety assessments by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in coordination with the Department of Education and local school officials. To date, 1,796 schools - or about 99 percent of Tennessee's public schools - have completed the security assessment with the remaining two percent set for completion by August 31.
The application window for state grant funding opened July 16, with nine grant applications already received and many more expected in the coming days. The governor's fiscal year 2019 budget, passed by the General Assembly, includes $25 million in one-time funding for schools to address vulnerabilities and risks, and $10 million in recurring grant funding for ongoing safety and prevention programs. Funding may be used for a variety of enhancements such as entry to and exit from schools, training and availability of school resource officers, and in-school mental health resources for students.
"All children in Tennessee deserve to learn in a safe and secure environment," Haslam said. "I am confident the significant work undertaken by our state and local officials as well as the funding to implement identified areas for improvement will serve to enhance the safety of our schools, educators and students."
Additionally, 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 used by students, faculty, and staff to anonymously report concerning or suspicious behavior to local law enforcement and school officials. In tandem, the Department of Education is developing a complementary training program that will prepare school officials to properly assess and respond to reported threats.