Almost 17 months has passed since the nation first started feeling the hard impact of the recession (though others may confirm that they've been feeling the impact of the recession since way before than), and the road to recovery continues to be a struggle for many. The number of families that lost homes to foreclosures only continued to grow. The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was falling at an unbelievably fast rate. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost each month. Less than one month after taking office, President Barack Obama enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a recovery package that in essence helped the country get back on its feet.
And with the ARRA came opportunities for funding across many sectors, including education. Funding can clearly be a struggle for most but the education space, despite the obstacles that the economy has faced and in part overcome, has improved and holds a number of opportunities. Additionally, it is essential for any school to understand that funding is available but it is not going to be handed to you. Whether K-12 or at the college or university level, it is up to the school to use the resources it has available to go out and take advantage of what funding is available in education.
"There are millions of dollars that are available from federal, state and local governments," confirmed Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, Boca Raton, Fla. "Normally, the grants come out periodically throughout the course of a year and again you have to understand what these grants can offer and what they are used for. But schools have to be prepared. When a grant or funding becomes available, you can't just raise your hand because you're just going to be like everybody else in the audience."
Distributed funding snapshot
Of the $787 billion the ARRA of 2009 budgeted for, $275 billion was set aside specifically for contracts, grants and loans, according to the U.S. Treasury, Federal Agency Financial and Activity Reports. Of that $275 billion amount, $105 billion in funds has already been paid out.
The ARRA, Recovery Act provided approximately $100 billion to the U.S. Department of Education with the initial goal of delivering emergency education funding to States. Over $67 billion in formula grants were awarded as of September 30th, 2009.
On February 1, 2010, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2011 Budget for the U.S. Department of Education, in which he proposed two key aspects that would affect the education sector:
Increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security: the Budget provides $44 billion - nearly a $1 billion dollar increase over the 2010 enacted level - for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Reform elementary and secondary school funding by setting high standards, encouraging innovation, and rewarding success: the budget provides a $3 billion increase in funding for K-12 education programs authorized in the ESEA, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, and the Administration will request up to $1 billion in additional funding if Congress successfully completes ESEA reauthorization. Together, these measures would represent the largest funding increase for K-12 ESEA programs ever requested.
So how does all of this affect the security of our nations schools? Although there are not any federal grants or grant programs specifically for those schools looking to get some sort of security system in place, there are programs available to create awareness in schools that an emergency effective awareness plan needs to be in place.
"Very few agencies have had a program that has permitted schools just to go in and buy technology," explained William Modzelewski, associate assistant deputy secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS). "Part of the reasoning for us, is that research companies show that a sound effective school safety program has to be a comprehensive program which combines school security with good prevention and intervention programs and school resources."