DES MOINES, IOWA — The State of Iowa will spend $100 million in federal funding to secure all of its schools in the wake of escalating gun violence and mass shootings around the country including the massacre of 21 children and teachers at a Texas Elementary School.
“As the Governor of Iowa and a grandmother of school-aged children, I want to assure parents that your children’s safety at school is just important to me,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. “Today I am pleased to announce that the state is making a $100 million in school safety.”
Governor Reynolds announced the new initiatives at a press conference on Tuesday along with Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo.
The initiatives will make $50,000 in federal money available to each school building in the state, private and public, to be spent on security according to the Governor. Commissioner Bayens outlined a four-point plan of initial measures his department will oversee to increase school security:
- Make an emergency radio available in every school building
- Create an anonymous reporting platform where parents, students, staff can report violent behavior
- Increase use of threat monitoring software to search for warning signs
- More active shooter training available to schools
The are 327 school districts in the state and 83 private. Each school building in each district get $50,000, which the governor’s office estimates there is around 1,500 school buildings K-12 in the state.
“The debate on guns will continue but until we consider the lethal weapon in these events is the person who picks up the gun and turns it against another, we risk overlooking other solutions that directly address the cause of this violence and work to reverse it’s course,” said Governor Reynolds.
$75 million is allocated just for the School Safety Fund, which is the $50,000 every school building will receive. $7.5 million is set tot fund vulnerability assessments; $6 million will go towards digital critical incident mapping technology; $4.5 million for emergency radios for schools; $1.5 million for digital applications and software for reporting; and the remaining $5.5 million will fund the School Safety Bureau through 2026.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety explains how the application will work.
“The Bureau will establish an anonymous reporting platform statewide that will be accessible by app, website, or phone,” said Commissioner Stephan Baynes at the Dept. of Public Safety. “The platform will be monitored and answered 24/7. We will permit trained dispatchers to engage in two-way communication with those raising concerns and will make sure the information is immediately shared with those who need it.”
The Iowa Department of Education said the groundwork done in the past supported by the funding from Tuesday will help keep students even safer.
“We must be persistent in our effort to ensure our schools continue to be physically, emotionally and academically safe places of learning,” said Direcor Ann Lebo, the Iowa Department of Education. “Now with this additional $100 million in funding we can do more to assist our schools in making them even safer.”
Bayens says he hopes to have the program “fully operational” by the start of the next school year this fall.