A call for applications from Minnesota schools interested in part of a $25 million school safety grant has prompted an overwhelming response, with schools around the state seeking more than 10 times the amount of money available from the state Department of Education.
On the first day the department began accepting applications, it received 1,265 separate requests that added up to almost $259 million. Public school districts and charter schools could request up to $500,000 per school building to help with safety improvements like secured-door entry systems, bullet-resistant glass and alarms.
The money was set aside by the state Legislature last year, and schools selected to receive a portion of it later this month can use it for projects over the next two years.
Department of Education spokesman Josh Collins said officials expected interest in the grants to be high at a time when school safety has become a top concern for school administrators, parents and students. But they were still surprised by the response.
"To receive more than 10 times the [requests] for what is available is certainly more than we expected, and really shows how much desire is out there for us," Collins said.
The grants will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, with some caveats. All of the applications received on the first day for what the state considers "high-priority" projects will be assigned a random number, and officials will make their way down the list, handing out the $25 million until it runs out.
The higher priority projects include those that would improve building entry and communication systems, ranging from door alarms and sensors to upgraded radios to help schools connect with law enforcement agencies. In addition, half the money must go to schools outside the 11-county metro area.
The Department of Education will announce the grant recipients on Sept. 28, and districts can use the money between Oct. 30 and June 2020.