Protecting schools has its challenges. By knowing what to expect and understanding the unique attributes of designing for safer schools, you can be more helpful to your education customers, assuring them that they are meeting the latest K-12 school safety and security best practices. Much of the information you need is available through your manufacturer. With this information, you can be a valuable resource.
Free Seminars & Webinars
You can spend a day or hour learning about K-12 schools and their security and safety challenges. You could be taught by Paul Timm PSP, one of the security industry’s most respected voices. Timm is a board-certified Physical Security Professional (PSP) and the president of RETA Security, Inc. He is also a member of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) and one of the nation’s leading experts in school and campus safety.
The day-long seminars include learning how to identify and address key areas of vulnerability, best practices in current emergency preparedness standards, when and how to conduct a lockdown, and creative source of funding for school security. The seminars will begin again in September and a listing of places and times will be posted online at http://safeschools.ingersollrand.com.
Webinars are an abbreviated version of the seminars. Upcoming one-hour webinars will be held:
- August 29 – 2 p.m. EST
- September 12 – 2 p.m. EST, and
- October 10 – 2 p.m. EST
Information and sign-up can be found on the website.
Security and Safety Assessment
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a facility’s existing school security lets you and your customer focus on specific actions needed to make that school safer and more secure. You and your customer can go online to undertake such an assessment which will help you and the educator discover security gaps and provide a list of action items for improving that specific school’s security. An Ingersoll Rand education security specialist will then provide a comprehensive strategy for that school’s security. Once you and the educator receive and study the results of this online assessment, the Ingersoll Rand education specialist will meet with you and your school partner.
“Show Me the Money”
Many times the greatest impediment to protecting school children is funding. It is a reality that funding, which provides the means to ensure a safe, secure learning environment, often must compete with traditional financing that pays for books and buildings. Fortunately, federal, state, private foundation and corporate grants are available to pay for security programs – about $11 billion in all. In some cases, schools know how to locate this money. In our case, start with an Ingersoll Rand Education Specialist or our website.
If you can tell your local schools how much money is available to them and for what, they will definitely want to talk with you.
For K-12 schools, the most popular grant programs are:
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Impact Aid
- Safe and drug-free Schools and Communities (SDFS) Grants
- Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Secure Our Schools Grants
- Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S)
Two types of grants are available to most schools: competitive and formula. For competitive grants, the district with the best application wins. Timelines are very long but often worth the wait.
With the formula grant, everybody wins. Perhaps the state allocation is based on the county’s percentage of total state enrollment accompanied by a boilerplate-type of application for the project. If the school completes the application, the district gets its share. If the school does not, the district gets nothing.
Before doing anything else, districts must be aware of what formula grants will be being funded in the coming year and assure that an application is requested, completed and submitted. This information is often found on state education department websites. Typically, leading security manufacturers with huge stakes in the education market also are aware of them.
Here is an overview of the most common grants:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – Formula Grant: These grants guarantee special education and related services for students who meet the criteria for eligibility in a number of distinct categories of disability. Funds can be used for acquiring appropriate equipment, constructing new facilities or altering present buildings. Among the security products that fall under this act are door exits, door openers, door controls or any other security item of an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) nature.
Impact Aid – Formula Grant: The Impact Aid grants provide financial assistance to local school districts where enrollments or the availability of revenue are adversely affected by federal activities, such as where the tax base of a district is reduced through the federal acquisition of real property, where there are a significant number of children who reside on federal (including Indian) lands and/or children whose parents are employed on federal property or in the Uniformed Services, or where there is a sudden increase in school enrollment as the result of federal activities. Most Impact Aid funds are considered general aid so that school districts may use the funds in whatever manner they choose in accordance with state and local requirements.
Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFS) Grants – Formula Grant:
These grants support programs to prevent violence in and around schools to foster a safe and drug-free learning environment for academic achievement. Local school systems may use up to 20 percent of their allocation for acquiring and installing electronic locks, metal detectors, surveillance cameras or other related technology and equipment.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure Our School Grants – Competitive Grant: The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure Our Schools (SOS) program encourages partnerships between law enforcement agencies and school districts to improve school security and safety. These grants were created to improve security at schools and on school grounds. Funds can be used for locks, metal detectors, lighting and other crime prevention tools.
Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S) – Competitive Grant: FP&S grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. Funds can be used to purchase equipment, enhance emergency medical services programs and conduct fire prevention and safety programs.
What Schools Can Buy
To determine what types of products can be purchased through the various grants, let’s establish four levels of security:
- Level One: Functional and compliant mechanical access control
- Level Two: Stand-alone electronic access control and key management
- Level Three: Networked access control, accountability and credential management
- Level Four: Campus integration
With IDEA grants, a district can purchase equipment in Levels One, Two and Three. With SD&S, COPS, FPS and Impact Aid, districts can select any type of security equipment or systems they need.
Our industry plays a key role in keeping our schools safe and secure. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we are taking advantage of all the knowledge and resources available. Check your manufacturer’s website as the starting point on your quest for such information.
April Dalton-Noblitt is director, vertical markets, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies