Arizona Board Of Education Approves School Safety Grants

Published: Friday, December 13, 2019 - 1:20pm

The Arizona State Board of Education approved plans by nearly 400 public schools to hire school counselors, social workers and police officers.

The hires are part of an expansion of the existing school safety grant program, which received a $20 million boost to the program’s $12 million annual budget earlier this year.

After fielding requests from more than 900 schools, the Arizona Department of Education used a rubric to award funding to nearly 400 of those schools. 

The extra $20 million will help hire 148 counselors, 118 social workers and 116 school resource officers — police stationed on campus.

Wilson Elementary was among those recipients after a report by the Arizona Republic highlighted the need for an on-campus police officer near one of the deadliest neighborhoods in Phoenix.

Gov. Doug Ducey sent a letter to the State Board of Education requesting it add Wilson Elementary to the fold.

Board member Armando Ruiz, who runs a series of charter schools in south Phoenix, praised the department’s efforts to distribute funding where it was needed most.

“We were one of the schools that applied. We didn’t get selected. But I feel like it was fair, and it addresses the problem and I’m happy. I’m satisfied the governor stepped in on the Wilson School District issue, but not everybody gets funded and that’s OK,” Ruiz said. “There’s just not enough money, but I think it’s a fair process.”

Associate Superintendent Callie Kozlak said that 501 schools won’t be getting the funds they requested.

It’d take an additional $42 million to meet the top safety priorities that all schools requested, she said.

“It has shown that there’s a fundamental need across the state, and ADE will support more funding for this program,” Kozlak said.

Arizona has a student-to-counselor ratio of 925-to-1, the highest in the nation, according to the American School Counselor Association.