State releases $30 million for school safety upgrades

Fire doors with locks and magnets can swing shut to create barriers.
Fire doors at Oak Grove Middle School are equipped with locks and magnets, allowing them to swing shut to create barriers for intruders. The latest round of school safety allowances depended on enough money being left over after the state’s budget year ended. Minnesota’s finance agency gave the go-ahead on Thursday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

All Minnesota school districts have more money coming for school safety improvements now that the funding has been finalized.

The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget informed lawmakers Thursday that a strong close to the prior state budget year provided adequate money to support the school safety program as well as two other initiatives.

In all, $63 million was freed up for school safety, a disaster response fund and bus service for riders with disabilities.

Sen. Carla Nelson speaks at a news conference in February 2018.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News 2018

Of that, $30 million will be split among school districts over the next nine months.

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The allowances are automatic so schools won’t have to apply, said Senate Education Committee Chair Carla Nelson.

“Every school district can count on funds based on a per pupil basis making sure that every school district will get funding to use as they see best to help keep kids safe in our school districts,” said Nelson, R-Rochester.

The spending builds off a $25 million grant program for school safety upgrades the year before that came with more limitations. The prior round required schools to apply and could be used only for physical improvements to buildings.

Schools can use the new funds to add hard security, such as bullet-proof glass or single-point entries, or to pay for safety officers and more counselors.

The money had been approved on a contingent basis and depended on there being extra dollars available when the state closed the books on its budget year in June. Minnesota Management and Budget said that happened with room to spare. A final, full accounting for the 2019 budget year isn’t due until early December.

Another $20 million will flow to the depleted disaster relief response fund. And $13 million will help offset costs at Metro Mobility.