Only inside the D.C. Beltway do some folks believe that $10,000 doesn’t do much for anything.
The U.S. Department of Education, the Administration, and some in Congress over the past few years have justified cutting and eliminating the state grant component of the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program by saying that too many school districts receiving funds get less than $10,000 per year. The company line is that this amount is not enough to do much of anything for school safety.
Am Hetzner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel painted a different picture in her Saturday story entitled, “Federal funds for drug-free school programs running out.”
Milwaukee Public Schools will lose over $1 million from the program. Cuts to prevention programs will be likely.
But other districts are like the Waukesha School District, which uses a portion of its $36,378 to pay for a school resource officer, safety equipment, and related activities.
The U.S. Department of Education is proposing to shift the bulk of its school safety resources away from formula grants to competitive grants in the fiscal year 2011 budget. Much of the focus will be on school climate surveys.
State and local education agency officials I have talked with about this range from skeptical and concerned to downright angry about the proposed loss of the decade-long school safety formula grants. Many argue that competitive grants create an unfair landscape for suburban and rural schools with limited-to-no professional grant writing employees on staff who must compete for competitive grants against larger districts with full-time grant writers.
The larger districts also, by their geographical and enrollment size, typically have more intense school safety needs. But suburban and rural districts also have safety needs including drug and alcohol prevention, staff school safety training, security and school police staffing, safety equipment, and more. These suburban and rural districts also have experienced some cases of higher-profile incidents of school crime and violence.
The first of many of my gripes with the elimination of the Safe and Drug Free Schools state grant component is with the company line soundbyte which was been used and abused. This repeated line that $10,000 or less does little or nothing for school safety shows a huge disconnect between those in D.C. and those on the front lines of education and school safety.
My bottom line is simple: $10,000 goes a long way for school safety in districts where the alternative to $10,000 is nothing.
What’s your take?
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