Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Launches Nearly $200 Million in School Safety Grants

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee invited local law enforcement agencies and schools to apply for nearly $200 million in grant funding to further strengthen security at Tennessee schools. 

The two grant programs include funding to support full-time, armed school resource officers at every public school and make physical security improvements at public and non-public schools across Tennessee. 

“Nothing is more important than making sure that Tennessee students and teachers return home from school safely each day,” Gov. Lee said.. “This year, together with the General Assembly, we made significant investments to secure schools across Tennessee, and we’re now inviting local law enforcement agencies and schools to partner with us by applying for these historic funds.”

Below is an overview of the grants announced by Gov. Lee in an official press release.

Statewide School Resource Officer Grant

The FY23-24 budget includes $140 million to place a full-time, armed SRO at every Tennessee public school. 

Local law enforcement agencies are eligible to apply for a Statewide School Resource Officer (SRO) Grant, not to exceed $75,000 per year, per school for which they are responsible for providing SRO services. Applications are being accepted and reviewed by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on a rolling basis.

Public & Non-Public School Security Grants

Additionally, the FY23-24 budget dedicates significant one-time funding to strengthen security at Tennessee schools, totaling $40 million for public schools and $14 million for non-public schools. 

The grant funding, administered through the Tennessee Department of Education, can be used to support a variety of school security efforts, including improved physical security, emergency operations planning, violence prevention programs, conflict resolution and safety training for staff members.

Public School Security Grant

Public school security grant applications must demonstrate a connection between requested funding and the vulnerabilities identified in the school’s yearly safety assessment, developed by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Non-Public School Security Grant

Non-public schools must submit an “Intent to Apply” through the Tennessee Department of Education by August 4. Final grant applications are due no later than October 27.

Non-public schools are encouraged to learn more about grant funding and school eligibility here

Earlier this year, Gov. Lee urged the state’s Republican-led legislature to pass a gun buyer background check and red flag system for all gun purchases made in the state. Under Lee’s plan, the “order of protection” bill would allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from residents who “pose a danger to themselves or others” if a judge agrees, but no legislators will willing to write the plan into a bill for consideration during the state’s legislative session.

Matt O'Hern
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