School Security Enhancement ActParty affiliation aside, the importance of keeping children safe at school is a topic everyone can agree on. That’s where the School Security Enhancement Act comes in. This bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary School Education Act of 1965 with a stronger focus on school security. Introduced in May by Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democrat Senator Doug Jones, the School Security Enhancement Act is a bipartisan bill that would permit local communities to get grants to assist in the process of enhancing school security.

The School Security Enhancement Act

The School Security Enhancement Act gives local school districts the opportunity to utilize grant funds for school security infrastructure and technology that has already been proven effective.

Here are a few examples of the security features the grants could be utilized for:

Control of access to school premises or facilities, using technology or infrastructure with evidence-based effectiveness

  • Protect and conceal pupils inside the school during crisis situations
  • Provide school security officers to defend school personnel and students
  • Install technology to provide notification to applicable law enforcement and first responders during such a situation
  • Provide college security reinforcement, such as bullet resistant doors and windows
  • Install any technology or system that would reduce time required to disseminate official information to parents concerning the security of their kids during and immediately following a catastrophe

In addition, School Security Enhancement Act clarifies that grant financing should not to be used to equip teachers with firearms. The bill doesn’t alter any other existing provision of law authorizing the supply of firearms or training in the use of firearms.

Thoughts on Successfully Navigating the Grants Process

While I am excited by the School Security Enhancement Act, my first thought is that I’m hopeful when it’s developed, the grants process will take into consideration the fact that technology alone isn’t the solution as it relates to school safety. To that end, the grant approvals process needs to start with an evaluation of the school district’s overall security strategy.

It’s also important for school districts to articulate how they want to use the new technology and infrastructure as part of the grant process. Too much emphasis on technology and tactics without an effective school security strategy will not yield the desired results. As we’ve seen in recent incidents, even small changes in school training can generate better outcomes. My colleague, Will Duke, wrote about this topic recently: Active Shooter Training Impacting Response to Violent Events, if you’d like a deeper dive on that.

It’s encouraging to see senators working across the aisle, putting aside politics to keep children safer at school. Since arming teachers with firearms is a controversial subject in certain areas of the country, keeping this provision out of School Safety Improvement Act will make the bill more likely to pass smoothly, which is better for everyone involved.

If you’d like to read more about the School Security Enhancement Act, you can do that by visiting Senator Cruz’s website. Want to read the full text of the bill? You can find it here. And of course, if we can help you and your team understand and work through the process of developing a strategic plan around school security and/or navigating the grant process should this bill become law, we’d love to help. Feel free to reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn, send me an email, or give me a call on my direct line at 210.865.7328.