Main Street Media of Tennessee

Tennessee launches $194M in K-12 school safety grants

School resource officer Faye Okert talks with two students as they arrive at Stratton Elementary School. PHOTO BY LARRY MCCORMACK/MAIN STREET NASHVILLE

Tennessee has begun its process of accepting applications for $194 million in school safety grants after Gov. Bill Lee signed a $230 million school security bill in early May.

The largest portion of the grants are $140 million toward full-time school resource officers at Tennessee schools. The grants will pay up to $75,000 a year for an officer. Local law enforcement agencies are asked to apply for the grants, which will be reviewed by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on a rolling basis.

“Nothing is more important than making sure that Tennessee students and teachers return home from school safely each day,” Lee said in a statement. “This year, together with the General Assembly, we made significant investments to secure schools across Tennessee, and we’re now inviting local law enforcement agencies and schools to partner with us by applying for these historic funds.”

In addition, the state is offering $40 million to public schools and $14 million to non-public schools for school safety initiatives. Those grants were available for a variety of measures, including improving security, planning emergency operations, violence prevention, conflict resolution and staff safety training.

The public-school grant applications must be completed by Sept. 29 and non-public grants must have an “intent to apply” submitted by Aug. 4 and final grants by Oct. 27.

The grant comes as Lee has prepared to call a special session of the Tennessee Legislature starting Aug. 21 that has received plenty of blowback from those opposed to red flag laws like those proposed by Lee.

Lee called for the special session and safety measures after a shooter killed six people at the Covenant School in Nashville.

The school safety funding also included $30 million to expand the state’s homeland security network with 122 agents.

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