Shepherd Snyder Published

W.Va. Schools Receive Nearly $6 Million In Safety Funding

Empty classroom, school, classroom, desks

West Virginia public schools are set to receive $5.7 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Education to help keep them safe and supportive for students.

The money comes from the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that Congress passed in June. The legislation closed loopholes in gun safety laws and promoted access to mental health services. It also assigns funding to help support school safety through the Stronger Connections grant program.

In a statement, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said supporting school safety “improves academic achievement, promotes emotional well-being, reduces disciplinary actions, and increases positive behaviors.”

The money is set to go to state educational agencies, which will then award funding to local school systems based on their current needs. Cardona made suggestions on how the funding be used in a public letter to state school officers.

His suggestions include support for underserved students and student mental health, as well as ways to get communities engaged on how to best make schools safer and more inclusive.

Cardona also suggested the funds specifically go toward local agencies in areas that have high rates of poverty and have dealt with issues like:

  • A high student-to-mental health professional ratio
  • High rates of chronic absenteeism, exclusionary discipline like suspension or expulsion, bullying and harassment, community and school violence, or substance use
  • A recent experience with a natural disaster or traumatic event

This also comes after Cardona visited West Virginia University and spoke with student leaders about mental health earlier this month.