Montana is getting half-a-million dollars from a new federal grant to train teachers and students on school safety, following the mass shooting earlier this year at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The grant money is part of the STOP School Violence Act passed by Congress and signed into law this year.
Dylan Klapmeier, the communications director of the Montana Office of Public Instruction says it will help school districts have plans and training in case of an emergency.
“Whether it's a school shooting, but also inclement weather - it could be blizzard, it could be a wildfire, it could be wild animals, it could be flooding. Whatever those most immediate threats are to communities we want them thinking about those threats and having plans in place for them,” Klapmeier says.
In OPI’s request for the grant funding, the agency highlighted Montana’s lack of mental health services, low law enforcement resources and high turnover in school staff, as factors that increase the risk for safety concerns in schools.
Klapmeier says OPI will use the money to hire a specialist to create professional development for school administrators on safety best practices. The money will also be used to on bully prevention programs for students.
Klapmeier says the grant funds will be available to Montana by next spring at the earliest and the money is good for three years.