The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is awarding nearly $7 million this week to 80 school districts to help them install emergency response systems.

These new systems will decrease the time it takes for police and other first responders to arrive and react to incidents at schools.

These grants were the result of Senate Bill 5197, passed in 2013. The intent of the bill was to encourage school districts to develop new emergency response systems using “evolving technology.” Districts had until March 17, 2014 to apply.

“Student safety is a top priority,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “We’ve all seen school tragedies play out across the country. While these projects won’t eliminate safety risks at our schools, they will help us be better prepared. Many of the emergency response systems funded by these grants are first-of-their-kind.”

OSPI coordinated with the school safety advisory committee to develop grant criteria. A subgroup of that committee reviewed the applications and chose the grant recipients.

OSPI will work with districts to install the emergency response systems funded by the grants.