MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE) has received a $1 million grant for implementation of safe school strategies over the next three years.
In June, MCOE applied for a grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA): STOP School Violence program aimed to improve efforts to reduce violent crimes in and around schools.
The program is based on the Student, Teacher, and Officer Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (or STOP School Violence Act) and is designed to improve TK-12 school security by providing administrators, teachers and students with tools to recognize, respond quickly to, and help prevent acts of violence and ensure a positive school climate.
On Sept. 29, MCOE was notified of a grant award in the amount of $1 million to be utilized over three years.
As outlined in the grant application, funding will be used to increase school safety measures within all 24 Monterey County public school districts by implementing the following: training using school-based behavioral threat assessments; technological solutions, such as hotlines and anonymous reporting technology; Incident Command Systems training, and other school safety strategies that assist in preventing and managing violence in our schools.
“This grant will make a huge impact in our efforts to advance effective school safety measures for our Monterey County Schools,” said Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Deneen Guss. “It was wonderful news to receive, and we are now swiftly constructing the details and timelines to execute these safe school strategies.”
In addition, MCOE has established a multi-agency collaborative, the Monterey County Safe and Healthy Schools Coalition, that meets regularly to identify and address school safety needs countywide. The Coalition will work to standardize policies, practices, and protocols and also promote synergies with additional community partners.
“The safety of children in our schools is a shared responsibility throughout our community,” Guss said.
The Coalition, led by MCOE, includes participants from all 24 public school districts, law enforcement, mental health practitioners and other governmental agencies, that works across agencies to implement best practices in emergency preparedness and mental health in our schools.
MCOE is currently working to outline the intricacies of this grant and identify the gaps schools may have in their overall approaches to school safety. It will encourage the creation of threat assessment teams and work with vendors to offer active shooter and threat assessment training.
The sustainability of programs and resources implemented will be addressed through the creation of a Master Emergency Operations Plan and train-the-trainer workshops.
“The safety of our students and staff is always top of mind, and MCOE will continue to do everything it can to ensure that school campuses and communities are safe and secure,” Guss said. “We are excited to receive this grant in order to further that work.”