The Rising Atmosphere of School Safety

Since 1999 there have been almost 300 school shootings, over 25% of schools don’t have a written safety plan, 15% of students admit to experiencing some form of digital bullying, and 6% of students report missing school at least once a month because they didn’t feel safe. Our staff and students need to feel safe before we can expect them to give their all to teaching and learning, so how can administrators foster that environment?

How You Can Benefit From A School Safety Grant

For the past 3 years, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has offered up to $25 million in State Grant Funding “to improve the safety and security of students, staff, and school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment.” It’s an exciting opportunity for schools across Michigan to improve their security infrastructure.

In early 2019, the MSP received over 350 applications requesting almost $50 million in funding. Once the application window closed, the Michigan State Police, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriffs Association, Michigan Department of Education, and other school safety experts reviewed the submissions before making their final decision. Then, on March 27, 2019, the MSP announced that funds would be awarded to 135 public school districts, 66 non-public schools, 20 public charter schools, and 9 intermediate school districts/regional educational service agencies. That means that only 65% of applications and 54% of overall funding requests were approved. Macro Connect can help you increase those odds through a deeper understanding of what qualifies and how to be prepared to make your request.

How School Safety Grants Are Structured

There are two “Program Areas” within the School Safety Grant (SSG) opportunity, and they depend on the size of your school’s prospective project. Depending on how much funding you request, you may or may not have to contribute a certain level of matching funds. Just remember, you can only apply for one of the two Program Areas.

Program Area 1 – No Match Required

Program Area 1 has up to $15 million available for Michigan schools. Each school building is eligible for up to $50,000, up to a maximum of $250,000 for the entire School District or ISD. This is especially helpful for small or independent schools who only have use for small scale project funding like a few new doors or a small school-wide communications system. Budgets are already stretched thin and it’s a great chance to complete important infrastructure updates that you couldn’t handle on your own.

Program Area 2 – 25% Cash Match Required

Program Area 2 also has up to $15 million available for Michigan schools. In this program, there are no restrictions on funding per building but the maximum award is $500,000. The Cash Match stipulates that the grant award will represent up to 75% of the total project cost and the school’s cash match will represent at least 25% of the total project cost. In order to receive the full $500,000 grant, the project must cost at least $666,667:

  • $500,000 Grant Award = 75% of $666,667
  • $166,667 School Cash Match = 25% of $666,667

Awards of this size are best for larger scale projects like district-wide key-fob entry installations or substantial construction efforts.

Who Should Apply?

Everyone! That is, everyone who hasn’t recently completed a comprehensive overhaul of their entire school safety apparatus including all structural and technology-driven systems.

In all seriousness, the SSG is an amazing opportunity for all schools in Michigan to enhance their security standards and keep students, teachers, and administrators safer while they’re on campus. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small charter school or a massive city-wide consolidated district. There are things you can upgrade to offer a more secure learning environment. And if you’re not sure about how you can take advantage of this opportunity, our team can come to your school for a free consultation to help you decide.

How Macro Connect Can Help You

Not only does our team have many years of experience installing and managing school safety technology across the state of Michigan, but we have significant experience helping our clients build strong applications. In 2019, 80% of the schools we helped were awarded funding, much higher than the state-wide average.

When our team arrives at your school, we begin with a walk-through of the building. We examine all your existing security systems like Intercom and PA systems, Video Surveillance Systems, and Signage. Next, we discuss any recent updates, your current budget, and your goals. Then we sit down for a strategic planning session to outline what kind of projects are feasible and which projects will maximize the value of any grant funding.

You will need to fill out the actual application, but Macro Connect’s technology leadership will be there to guide you throughout the process. We can explain the best way to fill out the application, give you examples of the kind of language and detail that will help you be more successful, and help you build a budget that will stand up to the scrutiny of the evaluating committee.

Who We’ve Helped Already

David Ellis Academy

David Ellis Academy wanted to upgrade their ability to flexibly and reliably communicate with anyone on their campus in case of an emergency. We reviewed their existing communication capabilities and the features they wanted to add and collectively settled on components of the EPIC (Education Paging & Intercom Communications) System™.

The EPIC System™ is a schoolwide paging system that maximizes situational awareness and the administrator’s ability to provide contextual direction to everyone on campus. The system gives administrators a full view of the school with a custom-built map that provides a visual representation of paging and intercom zones, SAFE alert notifications, and classrooms. Because endpoints are IP-based, administrators can take advantage of the ability to send messages and alerts that are location- and grade-level specific, instead of generic one-to-all instructions in the case of emergencies. The project also put two-way communication in the hands of all teachers.

After guiding David Ellis Academy through the application process and helping them submit a detailed proposal, they were awarded over $125,000 to help install their new EPIC system. This system gave them the ability to call both individual classrooms and large groups at the touch of a button, as well as organize student locations.

White Cloud Public Schools

During our consultation with White Cloud Public Schools, we discovered the need for an upgrade to their SAFE (Signal Alert For Education) System™. Fortunately, Audio Enhancement’s latest EPIC System includes the ability for a teacher to discreetly signal for help through a button on their lanyard microphone, which then ties into a map and incident logging software on the administrative end.

What Kinds of Projects Are Appropriate?

We covered this topic in greater detail in a previous blog post, but we’d like to include a brief overview here as well. The SSG funding is divided into over a dozen categories. Some of the categories include things like steel doors and window locks which aren’t really in our wheelhouse. But five of the categories are things we help schools install and manage every single day:

  • Category F – Intercom Systems
  • Category H – Panic Button/Alert System
  • Category I – Public Address Systems
  • Category J – Signage

Each of these five categories are driven by technology and Macro Connect has years of experience working with schools to plan and install them to maximize their utility. We also have strong relationships with top rated suppliers to make sure our school partners are using the best technology available.

Category F & I – Intercom & Public Address Systems

Categories F & I include voice or video systems that allow two-way connection with office personal. They also include visual notification enhancements like colored or strobe lights to alert students and staff to danger.

Category H – Panic Button/Alert System

Category H includes systems that are designed to initiate lock-down protocols and/or notify law enforcement officials and emergency services. They also include systems with remote or wireless activation devices that include location tracking capabilities.

Category J – Signage

Category J includes interior and exterior identification for rooms, windows, exits, hallways, and stairwells. All schools have signs for classroom numbers and emergency exits, but they’re typically static. And even if you have some digital signs, they may not be integrated into your security operations plan. Modern, connected digital signage can be changed to add visual distress signals to your communication capabilities during an emergency.

Get Started Today

The School Safety Grant from the Michigan State Police is an incredible opportunity to upgrade your school’s safety infrastructure at a fraction of the outright cost. The window for new grants has not yet been announced, but that does not mean you can’t take steps now to prepare for a successful submission. Many schools were ineligible because they did not have an up-to-date Emergency Operation Plan (EOP). An EOP is a qualifying criteria and guiding light for a successful application. If you don’t have an EOP or have an outdated one that needs refreshing, get to work today!

If you have any other questions about the process or would like to see a demo of the latest technology in each eligible category, our experienced team is here to help you formulate your application. The application window will be announced soon, so stay tuned and start thinking about how you might like to upgrade the safety of staff and students!