Keeping Schools Safe During Tight Budget Times

School Security Budget Cuts reported by U.S. Department of Education

District Administration Magazine’s Special Report Articles on The State of School Security:  “School Safety Gets the Ax” and “Keeping Schools Safe During Tight Budget Times”

School Safety and Security Budget Cuts

Budget cuts from federal to local levels are having a dramatic effect on school safety and security programs, according to a federal report by the U.S. Department of Education published in July, 2010.

“The elimination of several significant funding sources (e.g., Title IV, Safe and Drug‐Free Schools) from both national and local budgets has also resulted in the elimination of entire programs that provided a framework for school safety and
prevention efforts,” according to the report produced by The Center for School Preparedness of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

The report goes on to note that, “Programs being cut include Student Assistance Programs, Youth Development Programs, and Professional Development Programs. Staff members are being laid off, including SROs, nurses, counselors / psychologists, teachers, and custodians.”

The 10-page report details the devastating impact of layoffs, reorganized departments and programs, reduced prevention programs, elimination of school security and police officers, and cut-backs in state education department school safety support to local school districts.  Increased student misbehavior and security incidents were also attributed to the budget cuts by several respondents to the survey referenced in this report.

The Education Department and Congress eliminated approximately $295 million in state formula grants effective July 1st, 2010, when it terminated Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools state grants from FY2010 federal budget.  The Department is piloting a $27 million project targeted to state education departments and, focusing on bullying and climate for the current school year (FY2010 budget). While they have proposed expanding this pilot project to over $400 million in the FY2011 budget, this is still being reviewed by Congress and has not been approved.  Meanwhile, the economic recession has triggered additional budget cuts at the state and local levels, where prevention, security, and related school safety programs and staff have often been on the chopping block early-on during budget cutting decisions.

For an in-depth look at the federal report on school security budget cuts see:

Keeping Schools Safety During Tight Budget Times

So what can and should school leaders do during tight budget times? Remain proactive and avoid doing school safety “on the cheap,” according to Ken Trump.

In Keeping Schools Safe During Tight Budget Times, a cover page story for the September, 2010, issue of District Administration Magazine, Ken breaks down the elements of “A Perfect Storm” which collectively pose a threat to school safety. The progress made on school drug and violence prevention, security and emergency preparedness efforts post-Columbine is at risk when school safety programs are not sustained. The article also highlights “low-cost and no-cost” safety strategies, offers tips for strengthening school safety communications, and identifies practical and cost-effective strategies school leaders can take to keep schools safe during tight budget times.

Some areas in which Ken provides tips include:

  • Engage affected parties in cost-cutting decisions
  • Conduct internal and external assessments
  • Develop a strategic plan for school safety
  • Diversify drills, hold mini-tabletops, and engage students
  • Proactively communicate with the school-community on safety issues

and more.

Ken and colleagues will be following this report and new developments.