School districts across the state will receive a combined $30 million for school safety projects later this month thanks to a one-time appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature.
The news comes after state tax collections exceeded the February forecast by at least $63 million in June, triggering an agreement made by legislators last spring to release the money to school safety grants, the state’s disaster relief account and the Metro Mobility program for the elderly and disabled.
“Keeping our students and teachers safe is a bipartisan priority at the legislature and this $30 million shows our commitment on this front,” state Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said in a news release. “Different schools have different equipment and training needs; this funding allows school districts and citizens to make safety improvements based on their particular needs, helping to maximize the effectiveness of resources.”
Jordan Public Schools will receive $63,488, according to Minnesota Department of Education data. The Belle Plaine Public School District is receiving $56,579. Shakopee Public Schools is receiving $287,056. New Prague Area Schools is allotted $145,391. Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools will receive $298,878.
The sum is limited to safety uses, however. Districts are only allowed to use the funds for initiatives associated with safe schools activities authorized under Minnesota statutes.
Jordan Superintendent Matt Helgerson said the funds will be used to help refill the district’s safe school fund, which currently sits at a deficit of $78,486. The fund is restricted and can only be used for coded school safety purposes. In fiscal year 2019, taxpayers pitched in $72,448 for the safe school levy. The additional $63,488 will be a one-time payment.
The district uses safe schools dollars to pay for the school resource officer. The district pays 65% of the officer’s contract — $57,007 in 2019. The district also paid $23,524 in 2019 to share a chemical dependency specialist with New Prague Area Schools.
Safe school funding has also been used to purchase and update security cameras, safe entry hardware and visitor ID scanners in all three schools.