Federal grant to support school safety measures
Congressman Brian Higgins joined Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie, Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti, City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, Niagara Falls Police Chief John Faso and the Rev. Craig Pridgen to announce a $1 million federal grant to support safety in schools across the district.
“From outside threats to internal conflicts, violence has no place in our schools,” Higgins said Wednesday. “Districts face a range of challenges and significant costs related to school safety. These federal resources for Niagara Falls City School District will allow for the implementation of strategies that advance a safe and healthy school climate, which provides a renewed peace of mind for parents, students and teachers, and ultimately supports improved learning outcomes.”
Laurrie said, "Our priority is ensuring that our students are safe in school, and that our parents feel secure leaving their children under our care. This $1 million Safer Communities Act grant funds mental health services and school-based violence prevention programs that begin with our youngest students in pre-K and continue through high school. As a result, our students will receive the best antiviolence and mental health support for the duration of their school years."
The funding for the grant is provided through the Safer Communities Act, supported by Higgins, approved by the House of Representatives on May 18, followed by Senate approval in June, and signed into law by the president on June 25.
Higgins’ team said, “The bipartisan bill, which took steps to reduce gun and community violence, included support for mental health and community violence intervention programs, policies strengthening ‘red flag’ laws, measures to prevent straw purchases and interstate gun trafficking, and funding for investments in school safety, including early intervention and support services.”
Restaino said, "We need to remember that our schools are places for learning. Unfortunately, we live in times when some people have other ideas for our school environment and our students and staff. Congressman Higgins support of the Safe Communities Act again underscores his continuing commitment to our community, families and children."
Niagara County Legislator and Minority Leader Christopher Robins said, "As a parent and teacher in the Niagara Falls City School District, students and teachers must feel safe in our schools. This grant is a big step forward into obtaining safety for all."
Pridgen, president of the Niagara Falls Ministerial Council, said, “As a father, it breaks my heart that these are conversations we are forced to have. It gives me peace knowing that I have partners in government like my dear friend Congressman Brian Higgins. He continues to fight to ensure the safety of our children and those in communities that are often overlooked. The $1 million allocated for our schools is a great start to resources for our children, and to promote dialogue in our community.”
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, added, “As partners in education, Niagara University is proud to support Mark Laurrie and the Niagara Falls School District through mental health programs designed to make our schools safer. It is also important to commend Congressman Brian Higgins for his work in securing this critical funding for our schools, which will improve the academic climate for students throughout the Niagara Falls school system.”
The federal grant for Niagara Falls City School District will support a three-year comprehensive school safety initiative benefiting approximately 8,000 students that includes:
√ The establishment and deployment of a threat assessment team to evaluate any needs and vulnerabilities across all schools in the NFCSC.
√ Classroom-based violence prevention programming for students in grades pre-K through 12.
√ Afterschool violence prevention programs for middle and high school students.
√ Targeted mentoring for high-risk youth.
√ Expansion of student-led violence prevention and mitigation strategies, including the district’s restorative justice program to address bullying and school violence.
√ Training and professional development for teachers and administrators in preventing and responding to threats of violence on campus.
The grant for the Niagara Falls City School District is provided under the U.S. Department of Justice Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Program, which supports evidence-based strategies to address violence and threat prevention.