MDE selects Central Education Center for School Safety grant
The Minnesota Department of Education awarded Richfield Public School District the School Safety grant of $182,000 for upgrades to the security of the Central Education Center, 7001 Harriet Ave.
Richfield was one of 90 districts statewide to receive a portion of a $25 million state allotment for school security and safety enhancements through the Minnesota Department of Education. The grant could be used to design, construct, complete, furnish and equip school buildings, including renovation of existing buildings. The grant will provide improvements to 123 school buildings for security and violence prevention.
Richfield Public School District identified a need to upgrade the door hardware, install alarms and an external communication system at the Central Education Center, much like the new external communication system in place at Richfield High School. The Minnesota Department of education allotted $80,000 for the doors, $22,000 for alarms and $80,000 for the installation and purchase of the communication system at the Central Education Center.
Districts could apply for grants on a per-building basis with the total grant not exceeding more than $500,000 per building. More than 1,100 grant applications were sent to the Minnesota Department of Education for the school safety grant requesting a total of $255.5 million in funds for security projects. Half of the funds were secured for districts outside of the 11-county metropolitan area.
Because of the great need demonstrated throughout the state, schools were assigned random numbers for priority need projects on the first day of submission.
Superintendent Steve Unowsky said Richfield Public Schools submitted a grant application for each of the seven buildings within the district.
“The Central Education Center was selected randomly of the projects we submitted,” Unowsky said. “So larger districts like Hennepin County, which has more than 70 buildings had a larger chance of being selected.”
The district will use the grants to make improvements on top of what was designated in the school’s capital facility referendum funds. Unowsky said all of the sites were scheduled to get security enhancements, as it was indicated as a priority by the community through the referendum survey.
“We will do door replacement, window replacement, cameras – things we would not have been able to do,” Unowsky said. “We have our youngest children at the Central site, so these improvements will help protect some of our youngest children.”
The district will install these improvements sometime in 2019. Unowsky said some of the other projects, like breaking ground on the high school improvements in the coming months, will come first.
In May, Governor Mark Dayton and the Legislature passed the School Safety grants, a one-time $25 million allotment to fund the grants distributed by the Minnesota Department of Education. The bond was a part H.F. 4425 omnibus bonding bill which provided more than $1.46 billion in capital investment infrastructure improvements signed into law during the spring legislative session.
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