Over the past year, 26 states spent a combined $950 million dollars on school safety. The funds were spent on a variety of resources including anonymous tip lines, SROs, web filtering, fencing, and camera systems. As the need for school safety spending grows, district officials are on the search for funding. Title IV of the Every School Succeeds Act is a great source for school safety funding.
The Every School Succeeds Act
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in December 2015. It reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Title IV of ESSA is composed of two large block grant programs as well as discretionary grant and assistance programs meant to support the comprehensive needs of students in a variety of settings, strengthen family engagement, and bring America’s schools into the 21st century.
Title IV is divided into six distinct sections:
Part A – Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
Part B – 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Part C – Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools
Part D – Magnet Schools Assistance
Part E – Family Engagement in Education Programs
Part F – National Activities
Part A, commonly referred to as the SSAE program, is the most prominent part of Title IV. SSAE is broken up into three funding areas:
- Provide all students with access to a well-rounded education
- Improve school conditions for student learning
- Improve the use of technology in order to enhance academic achievement and digital literacy skills for students
Cyberbullying In Schools
Improving conditions for student learning is one of the most important aspects of any school’s vision. According to a 2018 Pew Research study, almost 60% of students experienced some form of online bullying. This same study indicates that around 20% of these students routinely skip classes in order to avoid bullying or the bullies themselves.
When most educators think about student safety and creating a safe learning environment, they tend to think of the tangible learning environment itself: school layout, structure, fencing, security personnel. Rarely do they take into account the technological world that students spend much of their day in. Schools need to create an environment where students can stay safe online, as cyberbullying is occurring on school campuses and at homes every day, and usually undetected by teachers, administrators, and parents.
How To End Cyberbullying
Luckily, funding is available through Title IV to put measures in place to end cyberbullying and keep students safe online. One of the three purposes of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program is to encourage the use of technology as a means towards academic achievement, which is achieved, in part, by teaching digital citizenship and violence prevention for all students.
School Attendance Problems
With 60% of students experiencing some form of cyberbullying and 20% missing school to avoid it, creating a safe school environment should be at the top of every school administrator’s to-do list. Students simply cannot learn if they are not in school. Empirical research does show a direct correlation between school attendance and achievement.
Digital Citizenship and Violence Prevention Programs
Online safeguards can be purchased and deployed by using Title IV funds. For districts that receiving over $30,000 in Title IV funding, 20% of funds can be spent on healthy student outcomes and violence prevention programs. Additionally, 60% of the funds can be spent on devices and digital citizenship content in schools. The remaining 20% can be spent on creating a well-rounded education that includes STEM, Art, Music and Physical Education programs.
For districts receiving less than $30,000 in Title IV funding, expenditures need to be focused on just one of the three areas.
Digital Safety for Students
There are a variety of options for districts to consider when purchasing tools to keep students safe online and to prevent cyberbullying and self-harming behavior. Districts should consider web filtering tools that automatically alert administration when cyberbullying occurs or when a child searches websites or on social media about self-harm. Additional safeguards can be placed on student email accounts to ensure that they are only being used for school-related activity.
About the Author
Dr. David Franklin, Ed.D. is a nationally and internationally recognized speaker and an experienced school administrator, consultant, curriculum designer, and professor of education. Dr. Franklin has presented at education conferences around the world delivering keynotes and breakout sessions and is currently serving as National Education Consultant for Securly.