WASHINGTON, D.C. -- To provide school leaders with more information about emergency preparedness, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge unveiled a new section on the U.S. Department of Education's Web site designed to be a one-stop shop to help school officials plan for any emergency, including natural disasters, violent incidents and terrorist acts.

In addition to the Web page, Paige also announced that $30 million is available in fiscal year 2003 to help school districts improve and strengthen emergency response and crisis management plans. An additional $30 million is included in the proposed FY 2004 budget.

Funds could be used to train school personnel, parents and students in crisis response; coordinate with local emergency responders including fire and police; purchase equipment; and coordinate with groups and organizations responsible for recovery issues, such as health and mental-health agencies.

Applications for this program will be available in early spring 2003. Funding decisions will be made in the summer.

The Department of Education has been working with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies on school preparedness.

In addition, the Department has been working with experts from around the country to develop a model emergency response and crisis management plan. That plan will be released later this month, and proposed plan content would focus on several broad areas, including emergency plans; prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery.