Last month fifty-two Wisconsin schools and school districts were awarded $3.5 million in grants through the Department of Justice School Safety Grant Program, including the Franklin Public Schools.
A total of $100,000,000 is available through the School Safety Initiative to local schools in Wisconsin to support projects designed to improve K-12 school safety.
Republicans passed legislation earlier this year that allocated $100 million for school safety upgrades and safety training. The measure requires schools to create a safety plan with local police to be eligible to receive the money.
Franklin received a grant of $149,053.00.
Franklin School Board President Janet Evans, Board Member Alan Aleksandrowicz and District Manager of Buildings and Grounds Mark Cloutier attended a news conference in Milwaukee where WI Attorney General Brad Schimel presented the grants.
I asked Evans if she could tell me how the Franklin grant was going to be spent. She referred me to Judy Mueller, the District Administrator (Superintendent) for the Franklin Public Schools.
Mueller did not directly answer my question.
“There are some things I am able to share and other things that must remain confidential for security reasons,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Mueller referred me to a 21-page announcement from the WI Dept. of Justice that stated, “Through this initiative, a total of $100,000,000 in state funds are available to support new school safety projects for 2018. Grant funds will address two categories of preparedness. Approximately $350,000,000 will be made available in the ‘Primary Security’ category to assist applicants in achieving a security baseline. Approximately $650,000,000 will be made available in the ‘Advanced Security’ category to improve school safety beyond minimum standards. Primary Security funding will be limited to entry glass hardening and classroom locks, with capped expenditures as described on page 8. Advanced Security funding will be capped at $20,000/building for prompt evaluation.”
See pages 8-12 for descriptions of what is and isn’t eligible for grant spending.
Mueller also offered this in an e-mail to me:
“We are submitting a grant for round two of safety funding from the Department of Justice this week. Our grant has been written to fund training efforts in student mental health awareness and threat assessment. We are also asking for funds to upgrade the notification systems used in our schools. The district will be informed in October if we are receiving the grant.”
This is a solid program. While part of me gets the desire to play things close to vest for security reasons, another part of me would lie to see greater transparency for the benefit of the taxpaying public that includes school personnel, parents, and students.