In light of recent tragedies which have occurred in schools across America, the Indiana General Assembly placed a large focus this past session on how we can work to ensure that similar heartbreak is not experienced here in Indiana. No child should have to go through a horrifying experience like what occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, and no parent should ever lose a child to violence.
As a result, Democrats and Republicans alike overwhelmingly voted to provide funding for schools looking to improve their safety. The month of November kicked off with the announcement of $9 million in grant funding to help local schools and school corporations do just that. These grants, which were awarded to schools in 82 of Indiana’s 92 counties, were made possible by the Secured School Safety Grant Program which was created during the 2013 session.
This program provides matching grants to school corporations, charter schools or a coalition of school corporations and/or charter schools, who are seeking to employ a school resource officer, conduct a threat assessment, purchase equipment to restrict access to the school or purchase equipment to expedite the notification of first responders.
I am happy to share with you that 6 of our local school corporations have received grants which will be used for varying purposes based on their needs. The Dubois County School Corporation received $14,650 for school security equipment. Loogootee and Shoals Community Schools of Martin County also received $25,000 and $29,903 respectively for security equipment.
In Daviess County, Barr-Reeve and North Daviess Community Schools both received grants to purchase school security equipment totaling $15,000 and $50,000 respectively. Washington Community Schools also received $50,000 to employ a school resource officer.
If you aren’t familiar with the term school resource officer, these are typically full-time law enforcement officers who are assigned to a school from a local law enforcement agency to focus on overall school safety, assist with student discipline and provide mentoring opportunities. They are optional for schools to use. These are different from school safety specialists, which are required in each school corporation.
A school safety specialist focuses on the broader corporation rather than one specific school. They serve on the county school safety commission, coordinate the safety plans of each school and act as a resource for other individuals in the school corporation on issues related to school discipline, safety and security.
It is extremely important that we work to protect Hoosier children and educators from situations which may put them in danger. When it comes to our youth and those who we entrust to mold them into our future leaders, nothing should be more important than their safety. While you cannot put a price on the safety of our most precious resource, it can carry a hefty price tag. I am proud to see Indiana helping to offset some of the costs and taking the lead on this important issue.