Grants. Love ’em or hate ’em, but they exist. This is how I see competitive grants- they are temporary fixes that give short-term funding for long-term issues. What invariably happens is the grant runs out and local school districts or charters wind up flipping the bill or, rarely, the funding becomes a part of state code for all schools. For State Rep. Danny Short and his House Bill #335, he wants to make school safety funding a competitive process.
This Act establishes the Delaware School Safety and Security Fund to allow eligible public schools to compete for grant awards to partially or fully fund projects intended to improve school safety or security. The Department of Education shall administer the competitive grant program. This Act further requires all funding to be awarded by a five-member committee consisting of representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget, the Governor’s office, and the Delaware Association of School Administrators. Said committee shall meet no later than thirty days after the effective date of this Act to develop rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this Section. Awards granted under this Section shall be limited to a maximum of $50,000 per school, with priority given to applications addressing a current unresolved safety or security issue, or an issue which would significantly improve the safety and security of the public school relative to the size of the investment.
Rep. Short, in grant applications there will always be winners and losers. I hardly think school safety should depend on who can write the best grant applications. I won’t pretend to know the solutions to school safety but I can pretty much guarantee you this is NOT the answer. School safety and the fear of another Parkland, Columbine, or Sandy Hook are very big concerns. But we need to approach these issues with common sense and not just go with the first thing that comes to mind. We talk about equity in schools all the time here in Delaware. Sometimes grants do help schools with the highest needs, but when it comes to school safety, a dangerous situation can happen at any school at any time.
For the record, I do not think arming teachers is a solution either. They have enough on their plate already. I think the biggest thing we can do is be proactive with students that seem to be missing out on resources they desperately need. With the shooter in Florida, there were obvious red flags and warning signs all over the place. Things could have been done on multiple levels to help this kid. The actions of the School Resource Officers assigned to the school were negligent at best.
We need to approach these issues with caution, not haste. Nobody wants another situation like this to ever happen again. That is what we can all agree on. But the flurry of legislation going back and forth over this issue is happening too fast. Yes, action needs to happen. But let’s do it with common sense. Just my two cents!