The federal education department has given Missouri half-a-million dollars to make its schools safer. The state will spread that money around to protect about one-million students.
The Missouri Center for Education Safety is getting the grant to improve relations between schools and local emergency response agencies. Center Director Paul Fennewald, a former state Homeland Security Adviser, says schools are some of the safest places children can be. But he says security plans are spotty throughout the 520-plus public school districts and in private and parochial schools. ‘We’re kind of all over the map,” he says, “Some schools have very high quality plans…but then a lot of schools don’t.” Fennewald says the goal is to take some of the relationships established in homeland security and “plug schools into the equation.”
He says the Homeland Security office developed a web-based best-practices all-hazards emergency plan that all schools can use. Fennewald says the money will be used to hire a couple of fulltime emergency operations planning coordinators who will work to bring schools and local emergency operations systems together.