State grants begin rolling out — paying for cameras, fences and more

If you see a new security camera in your local school, there’s a good chance a new state grant helped to pay for it.

The state has sent out close to $6.7 million in safety and security grants so far — and in the next few months, an additional $13.3 million will be on the way.

Katie Francis, the state’s school safety and security grant coordinator, walked an advisory committee through the program’s rollout Tuesday.

A few quick facts and figures:

  • So far, 71 districts and charter schools have gotten a share of the grants.
  • The bulk of the grants have gone into new or updated security cameras — 173 projects in all.
  • Other popular projects include building access controls (54 projects), public-address systems (39 projects) and fences (36 projects).

Funded by the 2023 Legislature, the $20 million in grants are designed to cover one-time capital projects. Districts and charters aren’t supposed to use the grants to hire school resource officers or other security staff.

The state’s School Safety and Security office is in charge of sending out the grants. Through Oct. 15, the state is taking applications for $16 million in project grants.

After that, the state will award $4 million in competitive grants, to cover larger projects.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the state’s school safety advisory board heard about a couple of other funding possibilities:

A federal grant. Idaho has applied for a five-year, $5 million grant, designed to help states work with local school districts on facilities management.

The biggest share of Idaho’s grant would go toward a third-party review of state building maintenance.

The grants will be awarded in the fall. The U.S. Department of Education has said it expects to award eight to 13 grants, totaling $40 million.

Nonetheless, School Safety and Security Manager Mike Munger is hopeful. “It appears the odds are ever in our favor,” he said Tuesday.

A new position? The state could hire a $121,000-a-year analyst to monitor security and safety programs on Idaho’s college campuses — if Gov. Brad Little and the Legislature sign on.

The request is part of the proposed 2024-25 higher ed budget submitted earlier this month.

The analyst would do a job that falls under School Safety and Security’s bailiwick. “We just don’t have any capacity to meet that, as it stands now,” Munger said Tuesday.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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