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Letter: Grant program could be excellent opportunity

Posted: July 30, 2018 3:35 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I have learned that the federal government now has grant opportunities to address school safety. One of these grants, a COPS school safety grant, is due on July 30, although I’m sure there will be other grant opportunities.

Most of these grants require collaboration of schools, local government and public safety, which makes a lot of sense -- because school safety is a total community issue.

The COPS grant I know about is for up to $500,000 over a two-year period and can be used for safety technology, safety equipment, some kinds of personnel, and training.  You might remember that the ad hoc committee reported to council that schools needed radios that can communicate with law enforcement and public safety. A grant would be a perfect way to try to meet this need. This, by itself, is a huge issue, especially if you consider that a lack of radio communication was a key problem identified in the investigation of the Parkland, Fla., shooting.

While council has approved an additional school resource officer and the school district continues to use the resources it has available to harden physical access to schools, a lot of needs remain. As a council, we have not fully considered the recommendations of the ad hoc committee in a thorough and transparent way.  This committee, which included some very good people from across our county, worked very diligently and,  I think, produced a terrific report.

I would hope that the county, our towns, the city, public safety and the schools could work together to at least explore grant possibilities. This would also be a great opportunity to involve the ad hoc committee, perhaps to help identify priority areas for a possible grants.   There are some very fine people on this committee, and we should use their expertise.

I understand that the COPS grant and possibly some others would require some kind of local match.  If a worthwhile grant requires a local match, I believe council and the school board could sit down and work something out.  The school district has been and continues to be a strong partner to council. I can’t see why we couldn’t find a solution together on this if we needed to.

I would therefore ask council to direct the administrator to immediately determine if the COPS grant could be pursued and further, to work with the school district, public safety, the city and other partners to research other possible grants.  I would also ask that we direct the administrator to give council a progress report at our next meeting.

If and when there is another school shooting, our citizens are going to ask us again what we are doing to protect our children, and rightfully so. I want us, as elected officials, to be able to say that we have done everything within our power.
We are an All-America community because of our ability to work together to solve problems. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to work together to protect our children.

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