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Department of Education awards school safety grants

October 4, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Education announced $25 million in safety grants.

The department announced funding awards for safety improvements for 90 school districts or charter schools for improvements to 123 school building across the state.

Grants ranged from $2,300 to a maximum of $500,000 to be disbursed over two years.

Rochester Public Schools were awarded two grants. The district was awarded $177,660 for security improvements at Franklin Elementary School and $109,660 for improvements at the Rochester Alternative Learning Center.

The funds will be used for door alarms and communication systems at the two buildings, said Heather Nessler, Rochester Public School spokeswoman.

Nessler said the district is thankful for the funding and executing at Franklin Elementary and the RALC.

The district had applied for grant funding for 23 other school facilities totaling more than $6.3 million in requests.

Goodhue Public School was awarded $472,215 to remodel the entrance to the building, built in 1935, that serves all 680 of the district’s students. The funds will also allow the district to retrofit all the building’s exterior doors. The improvements will not only make the building more secure, but make it easier for officials to designate which doors can be used and when.

“On a hot day, this door sticks,” said Redmond. “On a cold day, that door sticks.”

The grant will also lower construction costs as the district moves toward a bond referendum seeking $26.6 million. The grant was the only funding request the district made.

The Winona Area Public School District and received a $316,447 grant for Washington-Kosciusko Elementary School. The 1930s-era building needs updates, said Sarah Slaby, Winona Area Public Schools director of finances.

The grant was one of six requests the district made totaling more than $1.4 million.

The grant comes as the district is gearing up for a bond referendum. Selby said the security upgrade costs are part of the bond plan, but the bond language authorizes the district to issue bonds up to $9.4 million. If other funding sources like this grant are secured for projects outlined in the bond, the district can lower its bond request should voters approve the referendum.

“This (grant) is good news not only for the district but for taxpayers,” Slaby said.

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