UPDATE: There will be no REMS funding in 2011. For more information on REMS funding and alternative grant programs, read our latest REMS update here, published April 7th, 2011.
In January, we published a blog post that declared, "Now's the Time to Start Preparing Your REMS Grant Application." Consider this post an addendum, "...Or Is It?" As time passes and the federal government runs on a Continuing Resolution (CR) while working to pass a budget, the status of the REMS program has become speculative.
The Department of Education recently released its FY 2012 budget request. This request has not yet been approved by Congress, but does provide some insight into what will likely occur. The request for 2012 cuts the mother program for REMS (Safe and Drug Free Schools) entirely, replacing it with the "Successful, Safe and Healthy Students" (SSHS) program.
The description of the SSHS program does include a safety component, but in the context of improving many aspects of school climate, among them reducing drug use, violence, bullying, and harassment. Furthermore, the proposed SSHS program would "carry out activities similar to some of the current Safe and Drug Free Schools...activities, such as Project SERV, emergency preparedness grants...." This means that emergency preparedness programs are still fundable, but how much so remains to be seen, especially in the light of other priorities. It is also possible that some education funding priorities, such as emergency preparedness, will be channeled through state programs rather than administered federally.
That's for 2012, which still leaves 2011 up in the air. The REMS Technical Assistance Center at the Department of Education has expressed hope that the 2011 REMS program will be funded. However, there are less-optimistic murmurings from other sources. So what does this mean for REMS work? Our best guess is that there will be emergency preparedness grant programs in the future, but we don't know what those programs will look like yet.
For schools planning to apply for REMS funding, we suggest that they continue to document and justify safety-related needs and desires, but to also pay attention to other, broader needs for a safer school climate. Laying such groundwork will prepare for REMS as well as for other similar funding programs, whenever they become available.
Bear in mind that this recommendation could change in the next few weeks. Congress just passed another CR, extending federal funding until March 18, 2011. In the most recent CR, Congress cut another $4 billion. While REMS was not included in those cuts, two other emergency preparedness and security-related programs, the Safe Schools and Citizenship Program and FEMA Pre-Disaster Grants, did face budget reductions - further proof that emergency preparedness grants are not immune to budget cuts.
Schools, parents and teachers can also contact their local representatives and ask for their support for emergency preparedness programs in schools.
In the meantime, we'll continue to monitor the situation and post updates via the blog. Further questions? Contact a Grant Helper.