Seven area school districts are among 147 schools awarded grants through the Wisconsin Department of Justice School Safety Grant program, administered by DOJ’s Office of School Safety.

Combined, the 147 schools and school districts will receive $10,253,487, which will be spent on building safety improvements, as well as training for faculty and staff. More grants will be awarded soon.

Area school districts awarded grants are:

  • East Troy Community School District, $80,000;
  • Geneva J4 School District, $20,000;
  • Lake Geneva School District, $110,192;
  • Mukwonago School District, $164,010;
  • Raymond No. 14 School District, $18,580;
  • Walworth Jt. No. 1 Schools, $20,000;
  • Waterford Graded J1 School District, $79,675.

“The DOJ Office of School Safety is moving fast to award school safety grants,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “The nearly $10 million grants being awarded to large and small schools across the state, incentivizes school officials and law enforcement to make meaningful improvements to Wisconsin school safety through physical improvements and a focus on mental health training for school faculty.”

Grant dollars are divided into two categories: the Primary School Safety Grant and Advanced School Safety Grant. DOJ’s Primary School Safety Grants focus on baseline improvements to schools, including door locks and hardening school entryways. The Advanced School Safety Grants are awarded to schools that have met minimum security thresholds.

In addition to making upgrades to school buildings, one of the School Safety Grant prerequisites is providing all full-time teachers, aides, counselors and administrators with a minimum of three hours combined training in adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed care and trauma sensitive schools before the end of the 2018-19 school year; or demonstrate that staff has already received such training.

 

Improvements planned

Highlights from the school safety grant applications include such improvements as:

  • Securing school entry areas with shatter resistant film;
  • Improving visitor screening through internal and external security camera, video or audio surveillance, key card access, door fob, an entrance buzzer system and reconfiguration of entry doors;
  • Updating internal classroom locks, including electronic locking devices;
  • Increase communication throughout the entire school through public address system upgrades, intercom capabilities and panic buttons;
  • Installing playground security fencing; and,
  • Training for all staff on trauma sensitive schools, threat assessment and prevention, youth mental health and armed intruders.

“The School District of La Crosse is extremely excited to be in consideration for this grant. We would like to thank Go. Walker, AG Schimel, our local legislators and the entire DOJ Office of School Safety for making this happen,” said Scott Johnson, project director for the La Crosse School District school safety grant.

“With this award, our district will be able to enhance important safety and security projects to protect our students, staff and community. It has been a great pleasure working closely with our local law enforcement agencies in the City of La Crosse, the Town of Campbell and the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office,” he added.

Johnson said the district’s safety committee “is proud to have been a part of school safety, long before the grant came out and long after the award.

“Moving forward, the School District of La Crosse will continue to use our resources gained through this program to ensure our district, environment is not only inviting for student learning, but also safe and secure,” he said.

 

Sustainability key

Over the past three months, since 2017 Wisconsin Act 143 was signed into law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has consulted with numerous stakeholders in the fields of education, security, law enforcement and mental health. These specialists worked with DOJ’s security experts to develop how the School Safety Grant Initiative will create sustainable improvements in Wisconsin schools.

“Wisconsin schools need to be safe for everyone from students, to parents and teachers,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “Our $100 million School Safety Plan is helping bring together schools and law enforcement to ensure our kids have a safe learning environment because no one should feel unsafe in a school.”

Grant applicants are required to partner with law enforcement agencies to ensure that proposed expenditures, visitor protocols, and school safety plans will be effective and provide students with the safest learning environment possible.

In addition to helping keep schools safe from violent attacks, DOJ will be closely monitoring for behavior that could affect a school’s ability to pay market rates for products like door locks and shatter-resistant film for glass. DOJ will review and investigate any instances of inappropriate pricing behavior so the benefits of the program are not reduced.

 
 

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