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Oklahoma Elementary Schools Receive Homeland Security Grants to Improve Security

2/9/07

Director Pettingill at the Education Press Conf. OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) announced today that five Oklahoma elementary schools are the first-ever recipients of state homeland security funding to improve security on their campuses.  The 2006 Education Grant Program was a collaborative effort between OKOHS and the Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE) in conjunction with National Preparedness Month in September.

The 2006 Education Grant Program offered elementary schools across the state an opportunity to apply for one of five $10,000 grants for physical security enhancements. The five schools selected to receive the grants are Calvin Elementary (Calvin, OK), Orvis Risner Elementary (Edmond, OK), Park Elementary (Tulsa, OK), Remington Elementary (Tulsa, OK) and Richmond Elementary (Stillwater, OK).

“We work everyday to make the people of Oklahoma safer,” said Kerry Pettingill, Oklahoma Homeland Security Director. “Developing our Regional Response System, expanding the statewide communication system or providing the best training for our state’s responders, we strive to blanket the state with a layer of capability to prevent, respond and recover from any disaster. This year we expanded our efforts to include elementary schools.”

Elementary Schools across the state were invited to submit an application to participate in the program prior to the beginning of the school year and before a number of deadly school attacks gained national media coverage.

First Lady Kim Henry praised the state Office of Homeland Security for the grants program.

“Speaking as a mother and as a former schoolteacher, I want to congratulate Oklahoma’s Homeland Security Office for this exciting and innovative program, the first of its kind anywhere in the country,” she said.

“The safety of our young people and those tasked with their education is of the utmost importance. Through this pilot program, participating elementary schools are taking a critical step toward enhanced security measures that can and will make a real difference. For our children, the world of today, sadly, can sometimes be fraught with danger. I commend these schools for doing their part to help protect our most valuable resource, our children.”

To be considered for one of the grants, applying schools were required to complete an Assessment of their facility, submit an Enhancement Plan using information collected during the Assessment and incorporate the Ready Kids curriculum in their classrooms during the fall semester.

“Naturally, we have no way of knowing when a disaster might strike but we can be prepared and have emergency plans in place,” said Sandy Garrett, State Superintendent. “This is an excellent way to promote the Ready Kids curriculum and help deserving schools purchase equipment they may not otherwise be able to afford. And, all school officials who completed the steps involved in applying for these grants now have updated plans to improve the physical security of their schools.”

OKOHS grant funds are 100 percent reimbursable; a match is not necessary or required. The types of equipment the winning schools can purchase with these grant dollars include physical security enhancement equipment and/or communication equipment. Examples include security cameras, magnotometers, concrete barriers, identifications systems and two-way radios.

“Unfortunately, there are far too many schools in Oklahoma needing security enhancements and funding for a program such as this is limited,” said Pettingill.

“Through this grant program we are not only putting security equipment in place to better-protect students, we were also able to reach thousands of children with a message of preparedness. Ready Kids promotes three simple steps to be prepared: get a kit, make a plan and be informed. I am confident that message impacted our youngest Oklahomans and it was shared with parents across the state.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) is the first and only state to subgrant U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) grant funds to elementary schools.

132 Oklahoma elementary schools applied for the 2006 Education Grant Program.

A multi-disciplinary Selection Committee reviewed the Assessment and Enhancement Plan’s for each applicant and recommended which schools should receive the grant awards to the Oklahoma Homeland Security
Director.

To date OKOHS has been awarded more than $130 million from U.S. DHS.

Information about the Ready Kids curriculum can be found at www.ready.gov.