24 helpful security resources for K-12 schools

School violence remains a persistent problem across the United States, and now more than ever, school district leaders need practical and effective resources to ensure schools remain safe and secure. 

Local educational agencies should approach school safety and security through a multidisciplinary lens because school crime and violence are complex phenomena. A systems-based approach to layered physical security can help these agencies create safer environments supporting teaching and learning.

A systems-based approach requires schools to evaluate their physical security planning and implementation. Security planning assesses potential risks and focuses on implementing viable solutions. For example, what measures might a school practically add to its existing dismissal procedures, and what impact would these additions have on improving safety?

Here are 24 helpful security resources for K-12 school leaders that want to adopt a proactive approach to school physical security planning and implementation.

Resources for designing K-12 physical security measures

1-CISA K-12 School Security [Guide]

K-12 School Security Guide provides a comprehensive framework and systems-based methodology to support schools in conducting vulnerability assessments and planning to implement layered physical security elements across K–12 districts and campuses.

Download: CISA’s K-12 School Security Guide

2-K-12 School Security Assessment [Tool]

The SSAT is designed to help inform the school’s safety and security planning process by taking stock of what security measures and associated supports are in place across your campus, and where you can make improvements to improve the safety and security of your school community. The tool focuses on protection (keeping people and property safe from threats and emergencies) and mitigation (reducing the damage or harm from safety-related incidents).

Access: CISA K-12 School Security Assessment

3-School Safety Communications Planning [Guide]

This guide is intended to serve as a quick start to help school leaders plan and share school safety-related initiatives and news with their communities.
Review: School Safety Communications Planning Guide 

4-K-12 Systems Approach to Physical Security [Report]

The purpose of this report is to synthesize the scholarly and broader literature on physical security planning from a wide variety of disciplines (including school-specific literature) to develop and present a systems approach to school physical security.

Review: K-12 Systems Approach to Physical Security 

5-Creating a Campus Security Plan [Article]

Published by the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), the article outlines a 4- step process for creating a campus security plan The steps include recommendations for designing a plan, establishing goals, conducting a risk assessment, and building infrastructure capacities.

Review: Creating a Campus Security Master Plan

6-State Action Plan for School Safety [Guide]​

Federal guidelines and resources are helpful but schools also have to take into consideration local mandates and guidelines. The North Carolina Task Force for Safer Schools endorsed the five-year North Carolina State Action Plan for School Safety (SAPS) that school districts can use as a model to coordinate efforts across their state government and communities.  

Review: North Carolina State Action Plan for School Safety

Resources for funding K-12 physical security measures

7-School Safety Grant Finder [Tool]’s Grants Finder Tool helps you find applicable funding opportunities to help keep your school community safe. The tool features a variety of Federally available school safety-specific grants that you can navigate based on a school safety topic, award amount, application level of effort

Access: School Safety Grant Finder Tool

8-Elementary and Secondary School Emergency (Relief Fund)

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) was established on March 11, 2021, and provides funding in connection with the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, (ARP ESSER). $6.3 billion was allocated to local education agencies (LEAs) in alignment with legislatively reviewed plans
Apply to the: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief

9-Support America’s Families and Educators (Grant)

This grant program provides additional funding to school districts that have funds withheld by their state or are otherwise financially penalized for implementing strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, such as universal indoor masking.

Apply to the: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief

10-Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Grant)

This grant funds short-term education-related services for local educational agencies and institutions of higher education to help them recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted.

Apply to the: Project School Emergency Response to Violence

11-Office of Formula Grants [Resource Center]

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Formula Grants leads the implementation and development of effective and efficient policies, processes, and strategies related to the administration and management of the organization’s formula grant programs.

Review: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Grants Programs

Resources for implementing K-12 physical security measures

12-Implementing Physical Security Measures in schools [Report]

This report was written by some of the top school security professionals and highlights some of the challenges that schools face when implementing physical security measures in K-12 schools. It provides helpful information about how to implement various policies distributed across a variety of documents hosted across many agencies, creating a challenge for local education agency (LEA) leaders who might not be experts in physical security in locating relevant policy information and understanding and implementing various policies.

Read: Challenges in Implementing Physical Security Measures Report

13-Conducting School Safety and Security Audits [Toolkit]

This audit guide contains two checklists: The Comprehensive Document Review Checklist provides guidance for documents to review, and the School Facility Audit Checklist provides guidance for more specific procedures, conditions and operations within a specific school or support facility. Both appear below where appropriate in the audit process.

Access: School safety and security audits toolkit

14-Best Practices for School Security [Article]

Taking a systems-based approach means having the right systems, procedures, and mitigation strategies in place at every layer. This article provides tips and resources for school administrators to consider when it comes to physical security.

Read: K-12 best practices for a strong security posture – security operations

15-Analysis of Targeted School Violence [Case Study]

A multidisciplinary threat assessment team, in conjunction with the appropriate policies, tools, and training, is the best

practice for preventing future tragedies. A thorough review of the findings contained in this report should make clear that

tangible steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood that any student would cause harm, or be harmed, at school.

Review: Analysis of Targeted School Violence case study

16-Homeland Security K-12 School Security [Guide]

This resource guide was developed to address a specific threat that schools face, namely, gun violence. It outlines preventive and protective measures specifically for K-12 institutions to address the risk posed by an active shooter.

Access: Homeland Security K-12 School Security Guide

Resources for evaluating K-12 physical security measures

17-Campus Resilience Program [Starter Kit]

Exercise Starter Kits are self-conducted tabletop exercises (TTX) tailored for the academic community. Each kit includes a set of scalable tools aimed to test existing emergency plans, protocols, and procedures, while also strengthening preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities.

Access: Campus Resilience Program [Starter Kit]

18-K-12 Emergency Management Virtual [ToolKit]

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center has created a Web tool that education agencies can use to disseminate consistent information, guidance, training, and tools on school emergency management to the K-12 schools they serve!

Access: Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit

19-Safety Readiness Resource Assessment [Tool]

Schools have different needs and considerations that determine how they address school safety. While there isn’t a universal school safety plan, you can use the Safety Readiness Tool to get common actions that you should consider to create a safe school environment.

Access: Safety Readiness Resource Assessment Tool

20- Best security practices for school administrators [PDF]

The Safe Schools for Alex is dedicated to providing the most current school safety best practices and resources to students, parents, school districts and law enforcement so that all children can learn in a safe environment.
Review: Best security practices for school administrators

21-Comprehensive School Security Framework [Guide]

The Comprehensive School Security Framework is a collaborative effort to provide schools and stakeholders with a comprehensive set of policies, practices, and procedures that support the safety efforts of local schools and communities. This document can help guide local efforts to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from violence.

Review: Comprehensive School Security Framework Guide

Resources for managing K-12 physical security measures

22-Physical Security Measures Overview [Guide]

Designed for school personnel, this resource provides a snapshot of what physical security measures are and how they can be implemented in a school.

Review: Physical security measures overview

23-How US schools are updating their security plans [Article]

The article provides an overview of advancements in technology that are providing schools with a wide range of highly effective options and allowing for system integrations that result in far greater risk monitoring and response times.

Read: How US schools are updating their security plans [Article]

24-School Security System Management [Platform]

While prevention, response, and recovery are critical to effective school security, schools need tools and platforms to help them manage their physical security systems. The SiteOwl platform helps district maintenance teams, school officials and administrators manage their security systems from security cameras to access control systems from a centralized platform. 

Review: School Security System Management Platform

Final Thoughts

Each school will have its own set of priorities, resources, and building characteristics that will

determine which, if any, of these resources will assist them in mitigating risks and strengthening physical security measures. SiteOwl helps K-12 schools by providing a digital cloud-based platform that empowers school administrators and maintenance teams to manage their physical security systems in a collaborative and efficient manner.  

SiteOwl is committed to helping K-12 schools navigate the complexities of designing and implementing school physical security systems.  Contact us today to learn more about how our platform can streamline your physical security design or schedule a free demo and get information on our education pricing.

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It sets expectations and communication protocols, promoting effective partnerships. Continuous Improvement: A good playbook is a living document that evolves with the changing security landscape. It should be regularly reviewed and updated to incorporate new challenges and emerging best practices. However, without teamwork and commitment, a playbook may end up as nothing more than another file on a shelf or drive. Effective teamwork is a crucial element of a robust physical security playbook. 4. How do you ensure your playbook meets your team’s needs? Making sure your playbook meets your team’s needs requires a proactive and iterative approach. It’s important to engage team members at all levels to understand their challenges, needs, and information gaps. Get individual and group feedback through interviews and surveys. Ask targeted questions about: Challenges: What are their biggest frustrations or concerns regarding current security procedures? Needs: What information or resources would make their jobs easier and more effective? Gaps: Are there any areas where the current procedures are unclear, confusing, or incomplete? Observing workflows and processes is also critical to identify any roadblocks or areas where the playbook could provide better guidance. The process can be quite a rabbit hole, so using proven models and frameworks is important to help structure your analysis. 5. The Essential Physical Security Playbook Crafting a playbook can be a challenging endeavor, especially when you consider all the variables like site policies, team and vendor coordination. But it’s also a rewarding one, knowing that you’re building a roadmap to a more secure future for your organization. SiteOwl simplifies the challenging task of creating a physical security playbook by offering a customizable template that allows you to tailor it to your organization’s specific needs. This playbook template comprehensively covers a wide range of aspects, providing guidelines and best practices for your security team’s functioning, including: Project Planning Excellence: Steps to efficiently design and execute security projects. Advanced Communication Protocols: Ensuring seamless interaction among teams and stakeholders. Responsibility Matrix Framework: Clear role definitions to enhance team coordination. Vendor-Client Collaboration: Strategies for fostering effective partnerships in security projects. Maintenance and Evolution: Guidelines for the long-term upkeep and