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From WMOT News

Tennessee students start the new school year without approved safety grants

Tenn. Dept. of Education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Classes are getting underway at Tennessee schools without the new safety funding passed by state lawmakers earlier this year.

Responding to the February Florida school shooting that left 17 students dead, lawmakers added $25 million in onetime, school safety grants to this year’s state budget.


But before they can apply for those grants, schools are required to update their security reviews. Those assessments are due this week.


Mike Herrmann directs Tennessee’s Office of School Safety. It’s his job to provide school safety training statewide. He tells WMOT school administrators have gotten serious about being prepared for the unthinkable.


“We’re certainly see much more of a concern about being sure that those drills get done right, and that the relationships are in place with police and with everybody that needs to be involved in that.”


Herrmann says school administrators are also paying more attention to what happens after a school emergency. He says, for example, that many systems are creating protocols for updating parents quickly in the minutes following an incident.


Dale Lynch directs the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. He says school administrators are pleased lawmakers are providing additional security funding. But Lynch says schools also need new resources to address the mental health issues that often lead to school violence.


“Additional dollars to make sure that we have social workers in place, and school counselors in place to help some of our students who have…who have troubled issues when they come in the front door.”


Most Middle Tennessee school systems open for classes the first full week in August, including Metro Nashville.