By Christian Wade | The Center Square
New Hampshire education officials are planning to give out millions of dollars to schools to help them harden their buildings and train educators to respond to intruders with guns.
The state Department of Education said it will begin accepting grant applications from public and private schools for a piece of $13.3 million in funding to install security designs such as panic buzzers, electronic door locks, high-tech cameras and specialized glass meant to slow down a shooter and train educators.
About $3.3 million will be available in the first round of grant funding for public schools that apply by July 22, according to the department. The remaining $10 million in grant funds will be distributed to qualifying public and private schools.
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said the grants will be awarded based on three major security risks and safety priorities for schools – surveillance, access control and emergency alerting.
“School security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Edelblut said in a statement. “Offering this new pool of funding for the implementation of crucial school security projects underscores the ongoing commitment to help ensure the security of New Hampshire children.”
Money for the upgrades comes from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, as well as surplus state revenue from excess tax collections and other sources.
The state has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of education asking whether ARPA funds can be used to improve security at private schools.
A spate of shootings has schools across the country once again wrestling with upgrades to security procedures and systems to handle the threat of attacks on their buildings, teachers and students.
New Hampshire has distributed more than $27 million from 2018 to 2021 in school districts to secure buildings, install cameras, bulletproof windows and improve communication systems.
Jennifer Harper, director of the state Department of Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the state views “school safety is a top priority” and is fast-tracking the process of distributing the grant funding to school districts.
“With these grants, schools will be able to put important safety initiatives into place to ensure that the children and staff members remain safe,” she said in a statement.