The year 2022 saw an alarming number of school shootings in the US. This continued rise in violence has profound implications for students’ physical safety, mental health, and learning opportunities. Solving the problem will require a complex set of factors and time, but the most critical starting point is providing better school security.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has two grants to aid in the improvement of your school’s security. Both the School Safety and Security Grant and the Silent Panic Alert Technology (SPAT) Grant are designed to create a safer learning environment for students, specifically against intruders and active shooters.
This guide will cover the requirements that schools need to qualify for a grant, the main differences between the two grants, how you can apply, and perhaps most important of all, how to have the system professionally installed.
To be eligible for one of these grants, the school must be in the state of Texas, and it must also be either a public school or a charter school. Schools for the deaf and schools for the blind and visually impaired also qualify. Unfortunately, private schools are not eligible for funding.
2019–2021 School Safety and Security Grant
Despite the date given in the title, this grant is still available. The new deadline for applications is June 15, 2023. The TEA has been allocated $100,000,000 to provide funding to eligible schools that can use the grant to install the following safety features:
- Vehicle barriers
- Metal detectors at school entrances
- Exterior doors with push bars
- Two-way radio systems
- Security fencing
- Door-locking systems
- Systems that monitor and record exits, entrances, and hallways
- A school-wide active shooter alarm system
- Bullet-resistant glass/film for exits and entrances.
2022-2024 Silent Panic Alert Technology (SPAT) Grant
Silent panic alert technologies are defined as systems where the software or a manual device activates a silent signal. TEA first made the SPAT grant available on October 28, 2022. It can alert first responders and/or law enforcement to any emergency, including an intruder, active shooter, or medical situation.
SPAT is integrated into the school’s communications infrastructure and includes panic and duress alert buttons. The alarm system also has the following capabilities:
- School staff can manually trigger an alert.
- When a district employee calls 911 from anywhere within the school system, an alert is sent out automatically.
- All alerts show responders the location where the signal originated.
- The alert notifies school administrators to confirm the situation as needed. If confirmed, then emergency responders and law enforcement will be notified. School staff will also receive a notice to follow the appropriate emergency procedures
- Exterior doors with remote-enabled electronic locking mechanisms will automatically lock once an alert is triggered (staff will also be instantly notified of any door where the lock failed to engage).
Understanding Alyssa’s Law
Alyssa’s Law is in the process of being passed in Texas, and schools need to be aware of what that means. Alyssa’s Law will make it mandatory for all public schools to install a silent alarm and panic system (or alternative emergency system approved by the Department of Education) that is directly linked to law enforcement agencies to ensure a swift response to any threat. In short order, this law is designed to reduce response times during times of crisis and save more lives.
How To Apply for TEA Funding
In order to apply, you must visit TEA’s Grant Opportunities page. There, you will find an application form to fill out. It’s important to choose the correct grant at the start of the form, but luckily that’s quite easy. Simply choose SPAT or the School Safety and Security Grant from the drop-down menu at the top of the form.
The Importance of Professional Installation
A security system is only as good as the team that installed it. You definitely need a professional company with years of experience to ensure that your school and, more importantly, the students can rely on a security system that will keep them safe.
When it comes to installing and maintaining infrastructure, Network Cabling Services has been a leader in the field for 40 years. We serve clients in healthcare, aviation, education, commercial and industrial sectors, and the government.
Our extensive experience in security can also give you peace of mind that NCS can expertly install and test your new safety system. For NCS, it’s not just professional pride that makes us put in the extra effort—it’s important to us that schools stay safe in Texas.
If you are interested in our services, please contact NCS with any questions that you may have.