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State Agencies Prepare to Reopen School Security Grant Process

Special session released additional $5M in grants, $35M in low-interest loans

(INDIANAPOLIS) - New money for school security authorized by Monday's special session can be made available immediately. But state agencies are piecing together how to get it to schools.

At Governor Holcomb's request, legislators released an extra $5 million in grants, and $35 million in low-interest loans. State school superintendent Jennifer McCormick says the application process will probably be similar to the existing security fund, but says her department will need to confer with the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the fund.

McCormick says last year was the first time some applications were rejected because there wasn't enough money. The new money could cover those requests with a couple million dollars left over for new ones.

The bill also requires the Department of Education to survey Indiana schools on what they're doing to address student emotional needs, and do an onsite audit of school safety plans. It also closes a loophole in those plans. Schools already have to ban cyberbullying. The law now makes clear that includes smartphones, not just computers.

While the safety bill shores up bullying protections, the bill turning over the Muncie Community Schools to Ball State exempts Ball State from bullying rules and dozens of other education regulations. McCormick says the bill gave Ball State more flexibility than she would have preferred, including exempting the district from Indiana's A-to-F performance accountability system for schools. But she says she trusts Ball State to do the right thing to keep the schools safe.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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