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Local schools need money for safety improvements

MADISON COUNTY, Ind.- Two local school districts are making moves to keep their students safer.

Anderson Community Schools and Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools, both in Madison county, say they have plans in place to fortify building entrances. However, each district has at least one hurdle to overcome first.

The doors at Alexandria Monroe Junior-Senior High School are always locked, but once you’re buzzed in, it’s easy to bolt in almost any direction.

“School safety is probably one of the most important aspects of my job,” said Principal Tom Johns. He says the building needs a more controlled entryway.

“If you have the ability and make some small changes, or big changes to keep kids safe and keep teachers safe, then I think you have to take a look at that,” said Johns.

The school board agrees. Just this week, it approved trying to fund $150,000 to build a more secure entryway. It will likely come from a grant or a loan, but finding money isn’t as easy as it used to be.

“The state funding formula from years ago has taken away a lot of our capital projects money,” said Tim Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Anderson Community Schools.

He says his district is expected to vote on a $50 million budget referendum, with some of that money being used to improve entryway security.

“This has become more of a priority as we have more issues taking place across the country,” said Smith, “that we don’t want to be that next story.”

The federal Department of Education used to give out school safety grants, but that program ended several years ago, leaving local districts on their own for improvements like this.

“When parents send their kids to school, they assume everything is going to be as safe as possible,” said Johns.

Alexandria Monroe hopes to have their project completed by this fall. Anderson Community School says its referendum will be voted on in 2018.