The Kansas Department of Education began distributing $5 million in state grants Monday for new doors, windows, security cameras, intercoms and other features to improve the safety of children and staff in school buildings operated by more than 150 districts.
Appropriations authorized by the 2018 Kansas Legislature must be matched dollar-for-dollar by districts submitting requests to the state Board of Education. In all, 153 public school districts sought $13 million in grants. A formula was devised to bring grant awards within budget. Six state agencies collaborated on a set of building security guidelines.
Two districts — El Dorado and Moscow — originally proposed part of their supplementary funding be used to buy guns.
“Representatives from the partnering agencies on this project agreed that state funds should not be used to purchase firearms,” said Denise Kahler, spokeswoman for the education department. “The districts removed those items from their requests.”
El Dorado received $26,000, while Moscow was provided $3,300. The largest recipient was Wichita, which was awarded $922,600 from a $1.2 million request. The Healy district received the smallest sum — $1,043.
Other recipients of more than $100,000 were Blue Valley, $415,800; Kansas City, Kan., $223,500; Lawrence, $168,500; Olathe, $155,300; Andover, $139,500; Geary County, $135,000; DeSoto, $133,600; Derby, $131,900; Garden City, $129,500; Dodge City, $127,400; and Salina, $108,000.
In Shawnee County, two of three districts that applied received the full amount. Shawnee Heights was awarded $22,900 and Seaman got $19,000, but Silver Lake’s was sliced to $13,200 from $33,900.
Other appropriations: Hutchinson, $83,400; Leavenworth, $70,100; Hays, $57,700; Lansing, $48,800; Augusta, $41,600; McPherson, $29,300; Wellington, $28,500; Newton, $19,500; and Pratt, $15,700.
Dale Dennis, deputy commissioner of education, said the education agency was committed to forwarding the money to K-12 districts early in the fiscal year that began July 1. The objective, he said, was to allow security enhancements to occur as quickly as possible. Classes begin in August.
“The districts were really pretty sensible,” Dennis said. “It’s important we get the money out there and working rather than sit in Topeka.”
He said the allocation formula took into account a district’s enrollment. He anticipated total spending on projects proposed by districts would top $10 million.
In March, Republicans in the Kansas House recommended a $5 million fund for safety and security of public school buildings. The quest for safe schools unites legislators divided on issues such handing guns to classroom teachers, said House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe.