- School Safety Congressional Testimony:House Homeland Security Committee 5/17/07
- House Education and Labor Committee 4/23/07
- School Board News NSBA Convention 2007 San Francisco
- School Board News NSBA Convention 2006 Chicago
- School Emergency Plan Evaluations
- School Security Assessments
- School Crisis Tabletop Exercises
- Post-Crisis School Safety Support
- Emergency & School Safety Media Training
- School Bus Security & Emergency Training
- School Gang Training
- School Terrorism Training
- School Terrorism Preparedness Tips
- Proactive School Security & Crisis Training
COPS Secure Our Schools (SOS) Program grant
The COPS Office announced the availability under the COPS Secure Our Schools (SOS) 2011 grant program of approximately $13 million to provide funding to law enforcement agencies to assist with the development of school safety resources and provide improved security at schools and on school grounds.
Specifically, this program will fund up to 50% of the total cost to implement one or more of the following options: placement and use of metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures; security assessments; anti-violence initiatives; security training of personnel and students; coordination with local law enforcement; and/or any other measure that may provide a significant improvement in security. Applicants will be required to demonstrate a comprehensive approach to preventing school violence.
The SOS solicitation will open on May 2, 2011, and there will be two application deadlines for the program during the six week solicitation period. The first application deadline for priority consideration will be May 25, 2011, while the second and final deadline for all applications will beJune 8, 2011.
Contact Ken Trump for cost information on security assessment, training, and other services that could be provided under this grant.
For more application information visit the COPS Secure Our Schools web page.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant
[Formerly the Emergency Response and Crisis Management (ERCM) grant program]
National School Safety and Security Services has learned that the Obama Administration has eliminated the federal Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant offered by the U.S. Department of Education effective in the FY2012 budget.
See Ken Trump's blog article: Obama Eliminates Emergency Planning Grants for Local Schools
REMS Grant Deadlines
REMS School Emergency Planning Grant Insights and Proposal Best Practices
Best Practices in Writing & Evaluating RFPs for School Safety & Emergency Consultants
Our School Emergency Planning Services Funded through REMS Grants
Warnings on Vendors Writing Grant Proposals and Bids
The following are dates provided by the U.S. Department of Education.
FY 2011 Grant Applications Available:YET TO BE ANNOUNCED BY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Proposals due to Department of Education:
Prior application and related forms can be downloaded from the Department of Education's REMS web site.
National School Safety and Security Services has worked with ERCM / REMS grant applicants and successful recipients since the onset of the program in 2003. For additional information on priority areas of the grant, lessons learned from successful grants, and information on our services that can be funded under the grant, see below and feel free to contact Ken Trump with any questions.
National School Safety and Security Services, based upon our work with ERCM / REMS grant awardees since the inception of the program in 2003, has found the now-REMS grants to be one of the most comprehensive and meaningful programs local education agencies can receive for their schools.
We doNOT provide grant-writing services and we do not prepare proposals for districts for this or other projects. We also do NOT provide bid-writing services and we do not prepare bids for this grant or other projects.
WeDO have extensive familiarity with successful grant recipients and awarded projects since the inception of this program since 2003. We DO know what contributes to a successful REMS proposal and a successful REMS project.
Successful REMS grant proposals and projects are ones which:
- Focus on strengthening school emergency plans through training
school personnel, students, parents, first responders, and the schools'
other community partners;
- Seek funding primarily for the emergency planning process (training,
exercises, prevention, recovery, and related) and long-term
sustainability of school emergency planning (via training, coordinating
plans with community partners, developing policies and plans around
parent communications reunification, etc.), which is the intent of
the grant, rather than request the bulk of funding for security and
crisis equipment, products, etc;
- Are well thought out and designed by all collaborating partners on
the front-end at the time the proposal is written;
- Have realistic budgets for contracted services and activities
(consultant fees, evaluator costs, etc.) written into the original grant
application that reflect the research of the district's grant writer on
the front-end of applying for the grant so that if the grant is awarded,
the district is not grossly under-budgeted or over-budgeted in one or
- Have the support of the district's superintendent and leadership
team so that when it comes time to implement the project, they are
willing to have the necessary time and people in the district committed
to doing so;
- Recognize that this grant, like all other grants, is "seed money"
and the recipient must view the grant award, should they get it, as an
effort for long-term internal capacity building for institutionalizing
emergency preparedness planning at the school district and building
- Submit grant RFP applications written by the school district's
representatives, not outside consultants or vendors. Some school
districts have ignored best practices and related US DOE advisories by
having outside consultants and/or vendors with a business interest in
providing services under the grant actually write the RFP applications
and even bid specs for the district.
Ironically, several districts received initial awards under such circumstances, only to find themselves having implementation difficulties and potential legal problems once they got the grant. These districts realized, albeit too late, that the vendors who wrote the grant proposals did not have the best feel for true district needs and wrote in activities the district subsequently did not deem necessary and/or appropriate to implement once they received the grant award.
The best grant RFPs proposals are those written from within the district by school officials who identify their true needs and activities which can realistically be implemented if the grant is awarded to them.
Special attention should be given to sections of the REMS application packet including:
"Absolute Priorities" sections outlined in the application packet which
a) Projects designed to develop and enhance local emergency management capacity.
Projects must include training for school personnel in emergency management
procedures, plans for communicating school emergency management policies and
reunification procedures for parents and guardians, and coordination with community
partners, and more.
b) Priority additional points for applicants that have not previously received a REMS grant.
c) Partner agreements must be completed.
d) Coordination of plans with state or local homeland security plan.
e) Applicants must agree to develop an Infectious disease plan.
f) Applicants must agree to develop a food defense plan.
g) Applicants must agree to develop plans that take into consideration the communication,
medical, and evacuation needs of individuals with disabilities within the schools; and
must agree to implement the grant consistent with NIMS.
A sample of best practices and key considerations when writing grant proposals for REMS as shared by past grant recipients and observations of National School Safety and Security Services through our consulting work with districts on REMS grants include:
- Project Need
Propose comprehensive approaches for your project. Be sure to have a strong Recovery component to deal with mental health aspects (for both students AND staff) in recovering from a major incident. Do NOT propose approaches heavy on equipment and technology purchases or your proposal will be at high-risk for rejection. Discuss required areas including how the project will address: The specific needs of individual school buildings in the district; communication, transportation, and medication of individuals with disabilities and special needs; communicate and disseminate information to parents; non-English speaking parent needs, and training and exercise plans with school staff, students, and community partners. Focus project activities and plans on not only district-level activities and benefits from the project, but how emergency plans will be tailored to each building (training crisis teams, tabletop exercises to get teams to put written plans into action so building plans can be tweaked to their unique situations, evaluations of logistical considerations on parent-student reunifications and evacuation planning, engaging transportation and food services to support local school site evacuations and shelteriing in place, etc.).
School emergency preparedness planning is an evolving field where new challenges and new lessons learned continue to arise. Federal officials are often seeking projects that will increase the knowledge base of problems and best practice strategies to help expand the knowledge of issues in the broader field. Demonstrate in your proposal how your project might add to the knowledge base, identify new best practices, and provide insights into common problems. For example, some current challenges facing school emergency preparedness planning include: How to get emergency plans off the shelves and into practice in school districts so emergency planning is engrained in the school district's culture (such as unique efforts with tabletop exercises, training, and other initiatives); how to improve parent-student reunification processes in an emergency; how to better serve students and others with disabilities and special needs in a school emergency; how to improve school transportation services in a crisis and improve preparedness levels of bus drivers; how to engage support service personnel such as custodians, food services, secretaries, transportation personnel, instructional support staff, etc.; how to involve students and parents in school emergency planning; training school administrators on media and parent crisis communications strategies; and so on. Can you pull in unique stakeholders such as charter schools, Pre-K programs, private schools, and others? Demonstrate in your proposal an understanding of the current gaps in knowledge, research, and practice in school emergency planning, and how your project may eventually fill some of those gaps.
Be specific, detailed, and itemized ! Do not "lump sum" huge chunks of dollar expenditures. Instead provide detailed, itemized breakdown that lead to subtotal category cost figures. Avoid "red flag" items such as requests for office furniture, office rental space, office equipment (laptops, fax machines, cell phones, etc.). Identify in the appropriate places in the proposal the in-kind contributions by the district (office space, furniture, laptops and other equipment, staff time, etc.) to demonstrate the district's commitment. Provide detailed examples on sustainability of project goals and activities past the closing of this grant award.
Include references to collaboration with community partners, how the district's plan will be continually improved after the grant, how the district plan coordinates with the state or local homeland security plan (talk with your county emergency management agency), and identify how the National Incident Management System (NIMS) ties in with your plans (also talk with county emergency management agency or local fire department, look at free online FEMA NIMS courses for school officials, etc.).
Do NOT name specific product vendors, consultants, or other contracted/purchased sources in your grant application. Applicants should generically refer to the types of services or products, but not name a brand or company by name. The funding source expects an open and competitive process if the grant is awarded. It would appear reasonable for applicants to conduct research, though, on cost ranges for the services and products they intended to purchase through the grant so that budgets adequately reflect the amount of resources needed to make the purchase if the grant is awarded.
These points are suggestions based upon experience in working with
grantees, on the criteria in the REMS applications, and best practices in
The above points should not be a substitute for thoroughly reading the REMS
application packet and following the prescribed guidelines precisely and
National School Safety and Security Services does NOT write RFPs for school districts. We do have some best practice considerations we recommend school officials to consider when developing RFPs for consultants to provide school safety, security and emergency planning services include:
1 The most important evaluation criteria should focus on the K-12-specific school safety expertise of the potential consultants. A minimum of five years experience would be a bare minimum, with ten years preferred.
2. Request the name(s) of consultants who will be on-site for the project and details on their years of K-12 experience. (Too often we see some firms who use a front person who may have the experience in schools, but when the work is to be done, they send a lesser experienced person and you never see the person who you contacted with again.)
3. Require written letters of reference from previous work and who wrote the letters. Are they signed by policy makers at the upper level of administration, including superintendents? Be sure to get a minimum of five to ten reference letters specific to K-12 school safety projects. Look for references reflecting extensive experience over a period of time versus a handful of reference letters from only a few school projects while the bulk of the company and consultant experience is in another, non-K-12 security venue (corporate security, military security, etc.).
4. Does the company have consultants trained and familiar with best practices in school safety, such as the four phases of preparedness, NIMS, CPTED, etc?
5. Are the consulting firm and consultants established and recognized in the K-12 school safety field (published books and articles, established presenters/trainers on school safety, etc.)?
National School Safety and Security Services' services which have been funded through past REMS program grants since the inception of the program in 2003. Our most popular REMS grant school emergency planning services include:
SCHOOL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS EVALUATION CONSULTATIONS
-School emergency planning evaluations and consultation service helps school
leaders evaluate school emergency and crisis plans, district and building
school crisis teams, school safety drills and exercises, school training on
emergency and crisis plans, school crisis communications, and related school
emergency planning components.
The goal of the multi-day emergency preparedness evaluation consultation is to identify strengths and gaps in:
1. existing district and building emergency planning processes,
2. existing district level and building level written emergency plans, and their interrelationship,
3. content of written plans versus actual practices at the district and building levels,
4. relationships with first responders and other community partners,
5. level and adequacy of engagement of key employee groups and school-community constituents,
6. types, methods, and adequacy of school emergency drills, exercises, etc.,
7. adequacy of crisis parent and media communications, joint information sharing plans, etc.,
8. professional development training of certified and support staff, students, parents, and others,
and related assessment issues.
This professional evaluation assessment will foster
school emergency planning sustainability past the grant
period by identifying strengths and gaps in written
plans versus practice, methods for improving emergency
planning processes and relationships, needs for engaging
diverse employee support groups and school-community
partners to improve potential for long-term planning
sustainability, and focusing on "nuts-and-bolts" best
practices that can be institutionalized without
long-term dependency upon outside experts and costly
- SCHOOL CRISIS TABLETOP EXERCISES
- Facilitated school emergency/crisis tabletop exercises for building and
district crisis teams, and their community agency partners, in a half or
full-day professional development type setting to help schools learn whether
their written school emergency / crisis plans might work in a real
emergency. Tabletop exercises provide a simulation of emergency situations
in informal, stress-free environments. Tabletop exercise facilitators,
school safety professionals experienced in managing school emergencies and
crisis situations, provide a scenario and series of events to stimulate
discussions by participants who assess and resolve unfolding problems based
on their existing plans.
The goal is to foster school emergency planning sustainability past the grant period by introducing school district and building crisis teams, and their first responders and community partners, to the concept of tabletop exercises as a tool for ongoing use at the district and individual building levels so tabletop exercises become part of the school building and district emergency preparedness culture. This will lead districts to regular action of taking plans off the shelf and putting them into practice in an informal, non-threatening, and interactive professional development setting. Tabletops will sustain the emergency planning process by making school staff and their partners comfortable with tackling not only various hypothetical scenarios on an ongoing basis past the grant period, but also better identifying methods for managing common crisis elements such as parent-student reunification issues, mobilization of support services (transportation, food services, etc.), parent and media crisis communications, etc.
- SCHOOL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND SECURITY TRAINING PRESENTATIONS:
- Proactive school security and
emergency preparedness training helps
schools with improving school staff
emergency management and emergency response capacity, lockdown
and evacuation procedures, parent-student reunification
considerations, crisis media and communications
issues, best practices in security and school crime
prevention, engaging support staff in emergency planning
and crisis teams, understanding national trends in school deaths
and violence, managing and assessing student threats, school
safety assessment processes, practical physical security
strategies and limitations, heightened security during
national terror alerts, and related school
safety trends and hot topics. The emphasis is on improving
long-term sustainability of emergency planning
and school security by increasing awareness,
empowering all school staff to evaluate
day-to-day security concerns and threats,
equipping school staff with "nuts-and-bolts"
critical steps for preventing and managing a
crisis, and changing conversations within school
districts and between schools and their
community partners on specific school emergency
planning questions, needs, and preparedness
measures. Target audiences include central
office administrators, board members, support
service administrators, district crisis team
members, building administrators, building
crisis team members, school security staff,
school police, SROs, parent agencies,
Support staff emergency preparedness training
for secretaries, custodians and maintenance
staff, and food services staff. This
program has been designed to be conducted in a
series of one or two hour sessions (longer if
time permits) per employee group (separate
sessions for secretaries, custodians and food
services staff) in a manner respective of time
constraints for staff release from buildings.
Sessions will be specific to each employee group
roles and responsibilities in security and
Secretary sessions will include managing angry and threatening persons, role in access control, parent-student reunification roles, managing bomb threat calls, role on crisis team, etc.
Custodian and maintenance staff sessions focus on roles of day and night custodial staff related to security and emergency response, roles on crisis teams for planning, facility information needed in tactical response, procedures for specific emergencies, after hours security and emergency protocols, and related topics.
Food services will include cafeteria security procedures, impact of drills (lockdowns, etc.) during breakfast and lunch periods, emergency food supplies, food security and protection measures, access to food service vendors, role on school and district crisis teams, and related topics.
The goal is to create an improved awareness of the importance of support staff roles in site-based emergency planning and district level response, and to better engage and empower support staff workers to be more proactive members of school crisis planning teams. Engagement of support service staff will improve the sustainability of school emergency planning by expanding the planning to include perspectives and needs of special employee support groups, and to increase inclusion of these employee groups into the emergency planning and exercising processes to improve crisis response.
School bus security and emergency training helps
school transportation managers and school bus drivers
prevent and manage violence and emergencies on school buses.
Topics focus on preventing and managing violence
aboard school buses, "heightened security"
awareness and procedures, the impact of
terrorism on school transportation safety, bus
facility security, roles of transportation
services support in site-based emergencies, and
emergency preparedness planning for
transportation service operations. The goal is
to empower bus drivers, the "eyes and ears" of
school districts outside of school campuses, to
be observant, report suspicious activity,
interact more effectively with parents and
students in threatening situations, know what to
expect and what is needed from them in an
emergency, develop response tactics to
threatening situations, and serve as more
integral part of school emergency response
- Managing media and school community communications on school
safety and crisis issues training program helps school leaders learn how
to effectively communicate school safety and crisis issues
with parents, media, and their school community. The
goal is to provide techniques for communicating
safety and emergency planning issues proactively
and in an ongoing manner prior to a crisis to
sustain trusting relationships between parents
and their school officials. The session focuses
on equipping district and building
administrators and crisis teams with methods and
techniques for communicating in crisis and
non-crisis safety situations. The purpose
is to empower school crisis leaders including,
but beyond, the designated district spokesperson
to be cable of managing an onslaught of parent
and media communications inquiries and needs in
Parent and community school safety and emergency
preparedness training and facilitated community
forum meetings. The goal is to provide
parents with an overview of critical school
emergency preparedness issues related to parents
(parent-student reunification, role of parents
in emergency, rumor control and management,
etc.). This session will provide a brief
overview of national trends and best practices
in school safety and school emergency planning.
The purpose is put school safety and emergency
planning in a balanced, rational, and practical
context of understanding.
The majority of the remaining session will allow parents and school-community members the opportunity to provide input on school safety issues, concerns, and areas of interest to them as a part of the emergency preparedness evaluation process, and most of all for future district planning and long-term sustainability. This allows for community input and provides the district with a visible presence with its school-community to demonstrate its proactive efforts with school safety and emergency preparedness efforts.
Meetings with district parent councils, individual building parent organizations, and school-community forum session formats can be held.
The emphasis of all training programs is on "nuts-and-bolts" fundamentals of school security and emergency planning day-to-day best practices that can sustain school emergency planning without long-term reliance upon costly outside resources. The goal is to empower administrators, teachers, support staff, and their community partners to become self-assessors and self-reliant on security and emergency preparedness practices.
- Proactive school security and emergency preparedness training helps schools with improving school staff emergency management and emergency response capacity, lockdown and evacuation procedures, parent-student reunification considerations, crisis media and communications issues, best practices in security and school crime prevention, engaging support staff in emergency planning and crisis teams, understanding national trends in school deaths and violence, managing and assessing student threats, school safety assessment processes, practical physical security strategies and limitations, heightened security during national terror alerts, and related school safety trends and hot topics. The emphasis is on improving long-term sustainability of emergency planning and school security by increasing awareness, empowering all school staff to evaluate day-to-day security concerns and threats, equipping school staff with "nuts-and-bolts" critical steps for preventing and managing a crisis, and changing conversations within school districts and between schools and their community partners on specific school emergency planning questions, needs, and preparedness measures. Target audiences include central office administrators, board members, support service administrators, district crisis team members, building administrators, building crisis team members, school security staff, school police, SROs, parent agencies,
Ken Trump for cost and program information specific
to your needs.
We have received a number of reports about questionably-qualified and questionably-experienced large corporations, product vendors, and consultants proactively soliciting school districts to include them in their grant proposals. Some companies have offered to write the grant for the district, providing the district include their company for the vast majority of dollars received if the grant is awarded. School districts are cautioned to examine the credibility and appropriateness of consultants and of products vendors selected for use in this and other grants.
Once the grant funding is gone, school districts could easily get stuck with ongoing maintenance and service costs, as well as questionably useful products, if they allow product vendors to write their grant applications. Furthermore, the REMS grant application references as a conflict of interest a situation where a party prepares a grant proposal and/or RFP for the district, and then that party has a financial interest in awards from that procurement process. While this may seem to make life easier for districts pursuing the grant on the front end, the potential legal, criminal, political and reputation damaging costs for a "wink and nod" or "gentleman's handshake" backdoor arrangement could prove very damaging to a school district and its leadership See the application packet for details and have an open and competitive process consistent with your district purchasing processes and state laws.
Questionable consultants and products can decrease the chance of districts receiving grant awards. They can also potentially increase their liability, yet school districts are increasingly being solicited by large corporations and product vendors with little-to-no experience in K-12 school security and emergency planning.
We support districts using a fair, open, and competitive selection and purchasing process.
Fore more details on
selecting school security and emergency planning
Read Ken Trump's November of 2007 School Planning and Management article on the types of school security consultants, selecting school security consultants, and associated issues.
Selecting school safety consultants
Potential liabilities associated with using school emergency / crisis plan templates.
Other Federal Grants
Unfortunately, federal funding for school safety is suffering major cuts. There are a limited number of federal grants periodically available related to school safety, school security, school violence prevention, school emergency planning, and associated areas. School officials may wish to monitor grant availability at the following federal agencies:
U.S. Department of Justice
Grant seekers may also wish to sign-up for
funding availability alerts from the
federal grants alert web site.
School districts, law enforcement agencies, and other youth-service providers should also contact their state government offices of education, criminal justice services (or attorney general), or similar agencies to identify grant programs related to school safety and security, youth violence prevention, and associated topics.
Other Funding Options
In addition to using Safe and Drug Free Schools Program or other grant funding, school districts and communities are encouraged to collaborate with their safe schools planning partners (criminal justice, community-based organizations, businesses, etc.) to provide resources for security training, security assessments, and related safe schools projects.
Feel free to contact us to discuss specific concerns related to how you can fund our programs and services. Questions regarding specific grants should be made directly to the appropriate federal, state, or local funding source.