Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is urging school districts to utilize a $10.5 million school construction fund – the School Building Authority Fund – to make immediate school security repairs, according to The Providence Journal.
The combined grant and revolving loan fund was created in 2015 so schools could get funding for smaller projects or emergency repairs. The projects must be for low-dollar, high-impact repairs, and the work must be completed in 18 months.
Over the last three years, four suburban school districts received anywhere between $20,000 to $500,000 to make safety repairs, such as securing windows and doors, installing lockdown hardware and security card readers, and making improvements to security entrances.
After the February shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill requiring every school district to submit a safety plan to the Rhode Island Department of Education every three years. Districts that make safety improvements can receive an additional 5-percent reimbursement from the state.
An engineering study last summer found that the state’s public schools need $2.2-billion worth of repairs, with $500 million just to bring them to the minimum “warm, safe and dry” standard.
Gov. Raimondo says: “The message to the districts is, ‘We hear you.’ Safety is a top priority. We’re responding immediately with a $10.5-million investment that’s ready right away. This is just the beginning.”