Polk County Schools and 200 other school districts and charter schools across North Carolina will benefit from more than $74.1 million in school safety grants announced by the Department of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools.
The funding will be used for safety equipment, school resource officers, training and services for students in crisis in elementary, middle and charter schools across the state. High schools were eligible for funding other than for school resource officers.
Polk County Schools plans to use the bulk of its $324,580 grant to add additional school resource officers across the district.
“I first want to thank the North Carolina Legislature for funding the Safer Schools grant program as these resources are vital to our safe school efforts,” said Superintendent Aaron Greene. “We are excited to receive this funding, the bulk of which allows us to partner with the Sheriff’s Office for school resource officers.
“Having a trained, caring, law enforcement professional serving our schools is very important. Additional funds for other safety projects were also included and will help us address building and student security needs.”
In 2018, the General Assembly worked with then-state Superintendent Mark Johnson to launch a new School Safety Grant Program to improve safety in public school units by providing grants for school resource officers, services for students in crisis, training to increase school safety, safety equipment in schools and additional school mental health support personnel.
Since then, more than $120 million has been awarded to public school units across North Carolina.
“The School Safety Grant enhances schools’ efforts to keep our students safe,” said Karen W. Fairley, executive director of the Center for Safer Schools. “We’re thankful that we had the funding available to distribute, and we know it will go to good use.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said the funding is critical to ensuring that schools are safe for students and staff.
“School safety is a top priority for the Department of Public Instruction as it is for students, families, educators – all of us,” Truitt said. “It goes without saying that safety is an essential condition for effective teaching and learning. The Center for Safer Schools did a great job ensuring that each applicant received as much funding as possible to meet that critical need.”
Qualifying Low Wealth Counties were eligible for $44,000 per school resource officer, with a required local funding match of $11,000. Non-Low Wealth Counties were eligible for $36,666 for an SRO with a local match of $18,333.
Awards are subject to all administrative and financial requirements, including timely submission of all financial and programmatic reports; resolution of all interim audit findings; and adherence to allowable expenses. Upon successful completion of the mandatory reports, the SRO funding will be extended automatically to the 2023-24 school year.