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Public alert notificationColorado education dept. to fund emergency comm. systems

Published 11 February 2011

Colorado will use a $41.5 million fund tied to the National School Lunch Act could be used to purchase emergency communications systems; the technology will improve communication between schools and first responders during an emergency

At the School Safety Summit held at the Colorado State Capitol on Friday, 4 February 2011, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) announced that a $41.5 million fund tied to the National School Lunch Act could be used to purchase emergency communications systems.

The summit, which was formed by Ted Hughes, director of the division of capital construction assistance within CDE, groups together twenty-five school safety stakeholders to decide on legislation and review funding opportunities and training resources.

Hughes explained that his office’s Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program could finance technology that would improve communications between schools and first responders during an emergency.

Schools in more than two-thirds of Colorado school districts would qualify for QZAB funding, according to Hughes, which can be used for providing equipment, training teachers and other school personnel, rehabilitating or repairing school facilities, or developing course materials.

QZAB funds are available to schools in which at least 35 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches provided under the National School Lunch Act. CDE figures show that over 252,000 K-12 students are eligible for the lunch program, or nearly 39 percent of all K-12 students in Colorado.

State senator Steve King, who led the summit, will introduce the legislation to establish the new communication plan on 18 February.

In accordance with the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) created by DHS, the purpose of the strategy is to promote the ability of emergency response providers and relevant government officials to continue to communicate in the vent of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters and to ensure, accelerate, and attain interoperable emergency communications nationwide.