State Sen Richard Briggs (R-District 7, which includes Farragut) announced more than $1.5 million in state grants for Knox County Schools to improve safety and security last week.
Tennessee General Assembly included $35 million in the 2018/2019 state budget for school safety, which Briggs supported, following recommendations from Gov. Bill Haslam’s School Safety Working Group.
“The safety and security of our schools is a top priority and I am glad Knox County Schools has these funds available to improve school safety, which will foster a better learning environment for students,” Briggs stated in a press release. “The collaboration of local and state education and safety professionals in this process led to a well-rounded assessment to best address the needs of Knox County Schools.”
Knox County Schools received $505,730 in recurring funds and $1,111,230 in non-recurring funds to address perimeter control, signage and communication as areas of need.
In order to apply for grant funding, local school officials partnered with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Department of Education, and local law enforcement to complete safety assessments for school facilities and safety procedures. This was the first time the state led a comprehensive effort to determine the security needs at individual schools. Based on the findings following this assessment, all school districts were eligible to apply for two grants to receive funding for local safety and security needs.
Additionally, as a result of the working group recommendations, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is working to secure a developer to complete a statewide school safety mobile application. The application will be designed for use by students, faculty and staff to anonymously report concerning or suspicious behavior to local law enforcement and school officials.
“These grants will enhance the learning environment of all students and I look forward to continuing the conversation of how to best improve the safety and security of our schools,” Briggs said.