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State begins accepting applications for school security grants

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State begins accepting applications for school security grants

Jul 06, 2022 | 2:22 pm ET
By Ethan DeWitt
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State begins accepting applications for school security grants
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This year’s SAFE program is the first time the state has made funding for school security upgrades available to private schools as well as public schools. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

New Hampshire schools can begin applying for funding to upgrade school security this week, the Department of Education announced, a week after the Executive Council approved the federal funds.

“With these grants, schools will be able to put important safety initiatives into place to ensure that the children and staff members remain safe,” said Jennifer Harper, director of the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in a statement Tuesday.

Over $13 million in federal funds will be available to New Hampshire schools under the effort, named the Security Action for Education program, or SAFE. Schools will have until Aug. 26 to apply for the funding, which can be used for cameras and surveillance, technology to control access to school buildings, or emergency alerts.

The funds will be distributed in two phases, state officials say. In the first phase, $3.3 million will be distributed to public schools that apply before July 22. In the second phase, an additional $10 million will go out to both public and private schools; that application is due by Aug. 26.

The latest tranche of funding comes after the deadly elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May, spurring calls for tighter gun restrictions from the left and stronger school security measures from the right. New Hampshire has operated a different program to distribute security money, the Public School Infrastructure Fund, since 2017, but that program has already spent nearly all of its $28.7 million on 619 approved projects around the state. 

This year’s SAFE program is the first time the state has made funding for school security upgrades available to private schools as well as public schools. The latest round of money comes from the state’s share of the American Recovery Plan Act, the relief package passed by Congress in March 2021. 

State departments will allocate money to “projects that address the highest priority security risks,” officials said Tuesday. In the past, schools have used the money for camera systems and door-locking mechanisms.