(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that more than 1,000 K-12 schools across Ohio will receive state assistance to pay for security upgrades that enhance the safety of students and staff.
While speaking this morning at the Ohio School Safety Summit in Columbus, Governor DeWine announced that 1,183 schools in 81 counties will receive nearly $47 million in grant funding as part of his Ohio K-12 School Safety Grant Program. Grants equal the amount requested by each school up to $50,000. Funds will be used to cover expenses associated with physical security enhancements such as security cameras, public address systems, automatic door locks, visitor badging systems, and exterior lighting.
"With the start of the new school year quickly approaching, we want students, staff, and parents to know that we care about school safety, and we're working every day to make sure that rural, urban, and suburban schools alike have the safety and security resources they need," said Governor DeWine. "Helping schools pay for important security improvements is just one component of our comprehensive school safety approach that also supports the mental wellbeing of our kids and the work of local law enforcement to prevent crime."
Governor DeWine first launched the K-12 School Safety Grant Program in 2021 with an appropriation of $5 million in Senate Bill 310 of the 133rd General Assembly, which was awarded in May to 98 schools in 27 counties. This year, the Governor and legislature partnered to increase the grant program by an additional $100 million with support from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The 1,183 schools selected to receive funding each applied for but did not receive funds as part of the initial $5 million in grant awards. The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC), in partnership with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, will begin accepting applications in the coming weeks for the $53 million in funds remaining in the K-12 School Safety Grant Program. Schools that have not yet applied for funding or whose applications were ineligible in previous rounds will be given first priority.
Governor DeWine also announced today that Mary Davis, former executive director of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, has been selected to serve as the as chief training officer overseeing OSSC's new Safety & Crisis Division. House Bill 99, which was signed by Governor DeWine in June, created the Safety & Crisis Division to develop and provide training for school staff members whose districts opt to allow certain employees to be armed on school grounds.
Governor DeWine created the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) in 2019. It is housed at the Ohio Department of Public Safety and works to assist local schools, colleges and universities, and law enforcement agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety.
The OSSC is also responsible for hosting the annual Ohio School Safety Summit, which is being held in Columbus this year from August 2 through August 4. Educational sessions include evidence-based threat assessment training that the OSSC and the Ohio Department of Education are offering for free to every school in the state. In addition to regional trainings, staff at Ohio's Educational Service Centers will bring this free training directly to Ohio's school districts in the future.
The above actions support Governor DeWine’s ongoing work to protect school students and staff through violent crime reduction strategies and enhanced mental health services, including:
Strengthening Ohio’s Mental Health Workforce
- As part of his Wellness Workforce Initiative, Governor DeWine announced a plan to invest $85 million, with the help of the General Assembly, to expand Ohio’s behavioral health workforce to meet the need.
Encouraging Student Wellness
- Governor DeWine created the Student Wellness and Success Fund, a $1.2 billion investment that is now a part of the school funding formula, to provide wraparound services to students. Wraparound services are programming and supports meant to build skills and fulfill a student or familial need. To date, this funding has launched 1,300 mental health programs and trained 6,500 educators and school professionals.
- After hearing about the need for more accessible mental health services for students on college campuses, Governor DeWine led the nation with a $13.5 million investment to expand mental health services for higher education students.
Enhancing School Security
- Governor DeWine created the Ohio School Safety Working Group consisting of experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health, emergency management, and others. The group meets quarterly to discuss school safety issues, trends, and local needs.
- Governor DeWine has invested millions in helping public schools, chartered nonpublic schools, licensed preschools, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and houses of worship with funding for safety and security improvements.
Reducing Violent Crime
- Governor DeWine worked with the Ohio General Assembly to invest $250 million in Ohio’s law enforcement agencies and first responders.
- Governor DeWine created the Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative to double the number of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network units in Ohio to help law enforcement identify criminals responsible for deadly shootings and other incidents of gun violence in Ohio.
- Governor DeWine created the Ohio Crime Lab Efficiency Program to eliminate backlogs in the testing of criminal evidence at Ohio’s certified crime labs across the state with the goal of returning evidence test results back to law enforcement faster.
- Governor DeWine created the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program to provide funding to local law enforcement agencies to help them implement new violent crime reduction strategies in their communities.
- Governor DeWine directed the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement with “surge operations” designed to interdict gun violence and repossess stolen or illegally possessed guns.
- Governor DeWine created the eWarrant system, a statewide criminal justice database to improve the accuracy of state and federal background checks and streamline the process to file warrants and protection orders in Ohio.