School districts upgrade security thanks to grant money

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Districts across the state are getting a financial boost to improve safety in their schools.

Governor Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grant funding will be spread across 250 schools and districts in Indiana through the Secured School Safety Grant Program.

Recipients earned anywhere from $13,000 to $50,000 depending on their student population and need. The money will help them maintain their current level of security, but also add new technology and staff to make schools even safer.

“We try to walk the talk that school safety is our number one priority,” said Matt Prusiecki, superintendent for Decatur Township Schools.

Before even taking one step inside Decatur Central High School, visitors learn about that priority first hand. The district, like many others, uses a video intercom system to check people in at the main entrance.

Once inside, surveillance cameras continue to watch those roaming the halls.

“We look at upgrading all of our cameras, adding cameras as far as the security and surveillance inside and outside of our buildings,” he said.

Prusiecki said $40,000 in grant money will help make that happen.

It will pay for cameras with high-definition quality and a stronger zoom capability, increasing safety in and around the buildings.

“It’s not always a bad thing to have a police officer in your building,” said William Long, assistant superintendent for Center Grove Schools.

Three school resource officers patrol the campuses for his district. Those officers also get help from Duxo, a narcotics dog they purchased last year.

“We use him in the parking lot, through the lockers. We’ll randomly check classrooms, backpacks in classrooms,” he said.

Earning $50,000 from grants allows the district to maintain that level of safety for their students. How they spent the money was up to them, but why the districts applied in the first place is the same.

“I would encourage other school districts or other states to look at funding the way we have. You just have to make that priority and I can’t think of a higher priority than school safety,” said Long.

Of the $9 million being given to districts, nearly $5 million will be spent on equipment and a little more than $4 million on school resource officers.

Almost $32,000 was given to districts in order for them to conduct threat assessments.

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