STEM School shooting grant money spending at nearly $6M

Mike McKibbin

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A screenshot shows how a portion of more than $13 million in Douglas County school safety funds were spent after the STEM School shooting.| Douglas County

By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver | May 7, 2022

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] Schools in Douglas County have spent close to $5.8 million on safety and mental health measures since the county approved over $13 million in grants in 2019.

The commissioners heard an update on how local schools spent the money in a Monday work session. After a closed-door session, the commissioners approved two unidentified physical security spending changes requested by schools in the county.

The money was awarded three weeks after the May 7, 2019, STEM School shooting in Highlands Ranch from the county's unassigned fund for school security and mental health services for students.

Commissioner Al Laydon noted that recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, raised interest among county residents in local school safety.

According to county community development department figures, public, charter and private schools spent around $5.7 million on security, $467,000 on mental health measures such as training, counseling and first aid, and $427,000 on programs and curriculum.

The remaining money included $523,000 for mental health, $2.3 million for security and $1 million for contingency and innovation needs.

The Douglas County School District wants to return money intended for a youth community response team. Such teams pair mental health workers with law enforcement officers to respond to incidents that involve mental health issues.

County staffers told the commissioners that $10 million was set aside for physical safety and mental health awards, plus contingency and innovation needs. That left $3 million for a matching grant with law enforcement agencies willing to locate a school resource officer at each school.

"We talked a lot many years ago about the physical school security piece, the mental health piece and then absolutely that physical presence of a school resource officer," Laydon said. "So, when the commissioners made the commitment to provide matching funds to ensure our schools had that SRO officer, I think we'd love to know how that was handled."

Laydon added he was pleased with his conversations with school board President Mike Peterson and Superintendent Erin Kane about school safety.

The county will seek a future session with school district officials to discuss the issues further.

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Mike McKibbin is an independent journalist on Colorado's Front Range and covers Douglas County for NewsBreak.

Denver, CO
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