Senator Sparks Announces New Investment in Student Safety for Austin Public Schools

Senator Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) today announced a new $46,782 grant to improve student safety at Southgate Elementary in Austin.

The new funds are part of $25 million in school safety grants for “facility upgrades” at public schools statewide approved May 2018 by the Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) received a total of 1,187 completed grant applications, requesting $255.5 million – more than 10 times the available amount of funding.

“I’m glad that southern Minnesota is sharing in the benefits of the new school safety grant program,” said Sen. Sparks. “The amount of requests made by local school officials suggests that state lawmakers ought to take a harder look at this issue when we return to the Capitol in January for a new legislative session. Students, their parents, and local school officials should be at the forefront of that conversation.”

How the school safety grant application process worked
According to MDE, school districts were allowed to submit separate grant applications for each building. Due to the large number of applications received, high-priority projects submitted on the first day were assigned random numbers to determine the order of funding up to the available $25 million. The final grant award values will be determined after recipients get complete bids from contractors.

Schools were able to apply with qualifying projects for up to $500,000 per building. MDE, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Minnesota School Safety Center, determined grant eligibility based on project priority, with half of the grant funds available to schools outside of the 11-county metropolitan area.

High-priority projects included improvements to exterior entry security, such as access controls, keyless entry systems, door locking and glass integrity, door alarm systems, and structure changes to main entrances. Additions or improvements to communication systems, such as electronic emergency notification systems for staff and first responders, were also considered high-priority projects.


Senator Dan Sparks
Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.

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