In 2022, 133 school shootings caused injuries or fatalities in the United States, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. The number of school shootings in the U.S. in 2022 surpassed the levels of each previous year, and on May 24, 2022, 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The shooting and subsequent law enforcement response fueled national conversations surrounding school violence prevention between communities, lawmakers and security professionals.
After the shooting in Uvalde, school safety leaders and administrators continued their work to better protect their school facilities from active shooter threats. Since May 25, 2022, schools across all 50 states have become eligible for grants specifically targeting school safety initiatives, and legislation on the federal and state levels has made over $2 billion available for the creation and/or improvement of school safety initiatives and mental health services across the country.
By examining schools’ safety priorities, as well as the grant stipulations laid out by state and federal legislators, trends in school safety goals and improvements emerge. Security magazine researched school safety funding and spending in the 50 states since May 2022 to determine what strategies schools are implementing to increase physical safety at their facilities.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the city school district plans to use a $1 million safety grant to establish a school safety office in the district and focus on security and mental health training, as well as building training partnerships with local law enforcement.
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and its Comprehensive School Safety Program are collaborating with all public school districts in Delaware to provide detailed campus maps of all facilities for training and emergency response purposes. The maps, which include information on room types, door/stairwell numbers, and key utility locations, among other data points, aim to help law enforcement train and respond to school incidents.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, the Clark County School District (CCSD) is focusing on interdepartmental communication this school year, as district police and emergency management personnel work with school principals to review emergency plans. District employees are required to complete school-based emergency response training.
Mental health support
The Arkansas School Safety Commission released recommendations for school safety initiatives in the state, highlighting the importance of mental health services for the school community and the establishment of behavioral threat assessment teams, which can help identify potential threat indicators before they escalate.
The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) at the University of Colorado Boulder received a $2 million grant to aid 40 Colorado schools in identifying, reporting and treating concerning behavior in school communities.
In Lake County, Illinois, teams at the University of Illinois and University of Minnesota are partnering to develop a behavioral threat assessment program in the Woodland Community Consolidated School District 50. The efforts will include the implementation of a mobile reporting app for school community members to inform safety professionals of potential security issues.
In Tempe, Arizona, safety leaders at the Tempe Union High School District seek to equip nearly 700 classrooms across seven school buildings with updated door locks.
In Menifee County, Kentucky, the Menifee County High School administration and safety team plan to implement a card-based access control system across all school buildings and upgrade video surveillance using a $529,000 federal grant.
The Virginia Department of Education awarded $12 million in security technology grants to 90 school divisions across Virginia. The grants specify school safety technologies schools can implement, including security card access systems, visitor ID badging systems, two-way radios, security vestibules, and other security tools.
Additional trends included security funding for rural school districts; school resource officers; risk assessments; conflict resolutions programs; and restorative justice initiatives.