ADE received $20M through the Federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for the Stronger Connections Grant program. States have been provided flexibility on how best to target those funds to support school safety needs through offering competitive grants to ‘High-Need LEAs’, as determined by the ADE.
ADE’s grant will be focused on providing resources to ‘High-Need LEAs’ to hire, train and support effective School Safety Officers (SSOs) for their school(s).
Our focus was driven by feedback provided from the schools regarding the School Safety Program grant, as schools have reported challenges in hiring School Resource Officers. These state funds are limited to School Resource Officers (SROs) who must be certified police officers hired in full-time roles. Federally funded SSOs, however, may be a peace officer or a full-authority reserve peace officer who is certified by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. SSOs will perform the same duties as an SRO as required by existing School Safety Grant protocol, albeit in an off-duty or extra-duty capacity versus a full-time capacity. This provides much needed local flexibility, and would be appropriate for schools that could not find SROs in their communities.
Given this, ADE has defined ‘High-Need LEAs’ for the grant as public, non-profit (as required by USED) LEAs (school districts or charter schools) with no School Resource Officers (SROs) at one or more of their schools. Additional competitive preference will be given for applications serving small, rural and remote LEAs, and LEAs reporting high local school community crime rate data.
LEAs may apply for up to a maximum of $500,000 per proposed participating school included in the LEA’s application. ADE has reserved at least $19,785,580.65 to support LEA grants through this new grant program.
The grant will allow for LEAs to hire and support new School Safety Officer personnel over three full school years (SY23-24, SY24-25, and SY25-26), with the grant ending September 30, 2026.
How can an LEA apply for Stronger Connections Grant funds?
Eligible ‘High Need LEAs’ will apply for the FY24 Stronger Connections Grant through completing an online application in the ADE online Grants Management system, at gme.azed.gov. View a step-by-step guide to help LEAs access the FY24 Stronger Connections grant application in GME
Stronger Connections Grant – LEA Competitive Application Information Session
ADE is also providing a live joint webinar with the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), Arizona School Administrators (ASA), Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) and the Arizona Charter School Association (ACSA). This session will be recorded and posted.