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State begins taking applications for school safety grants

By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Justice began accepting applications on Tuesday for $100 million in new school-safety grants.

The money for the grants was the centerpiece of a bill Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed last month to make schools safer and came in response to a mass shooting at a high school in Florida. The bill establishes an Office of School Safety within the DOJ to administer the grants and help schools develop safety plans and requires annual school-safety drills. The bill did not impose any restrictions on gun ownership.

Both public and private K-12 schools can receive a slice of the grants. DOJ officials said in a news release on Tuesday that applicants must agree to provide full-time teachers, aides, counselors and administrators with at least three hours of training in dealing with traumatized children before the end of the 2018-19 school year or provide proof that staff employees havre already received such training. Applicants must also agree to work with police to ensure grant expenditures will be effective.

The grants will be awarded in two general categories. Schools can win money for basic improvements, such as installing door locks. Schools that have already met minimum security thresholds can use the money to install more-advanced upgrades.

The DOJ will begin awarding the grants in June, according to the news release. The agency issued a separate release telling schools that grant applications will be presumed to be public under the state’s open-records law but that schools could refuse to release material that could make it easier to evade school security.

The agency will also watch for safety-equipment manufacturers who may try to inflate prices for schools, the release said.

Asked around 4 p.m. Tuesday if the DOJ had received any applications, a spokesman for the department said the online portal to apply had been open for only about 45 minutes.

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