By Ethan Duran
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS) announced on Wednesday it will use $1.52 million in school safety grant funds to address the need for digital mapping of school buildings.
The funds came from a total of $100 million allocated in 2017 Wisconsin Act 143 which created the OSS, DOJ officials said.
“Digital mapping helps schools and law enforcement collaborate easier in case of a critical incident,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement.
The OSS is looking for applications from Wisconsin public, private, charter and tribal schools who are interested in digital mapping data with replenished funding, DOJ officials said.
Previous Wisconsin legislation allowed for a $2 million grant program, but there were more applicants than money to go around, officials added.
“Our Office of School Safety has made incredible strides in making our state’s schools safer for our kids. Digital mapping can help ensure that schools and law enforcement are prepared to work together quickly and effectively if a critical incident occurs,” Kaul said.
2021 Wisconsin Act 109 amended the 2017 law and allowed school boards and private school leadership to submit digital mapping data instead of blueprints to OSS and law enforcement, DOJ officials said. The data is used to increase situational awareness for first responders and enhance security, officials added.
The 2017 law that created OSS requires every school district and private school to submit blueprints of their schools to a local law enforcement agency.
The 2021 act also created a $2 million grant program for school boards and private schools to submit their digital data, and applicants could apply for up to $5,000 per building up to a maximum of $200,000 per public school district, DOJ officials said. There were so many applicants that the $2 million couldn’t meet the needs of all the school applicants so additional funds were needed, officials added.