INDIANAPOLIS — Almost $23 million is being funneled into Indiana school safety plans this upcoming year.
The total of $22.9 million comes from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Secured School Safety Board goes over the applications.
”This year we set another record for amount of money awarded and the number of applications,” Secured School Safety Board Director Rusty Goodpaster said.
430 Hoosier schools applied for some of the grant money and 425 were approved. Goodpaster said five schools did not apply for eligible items under the grant rules.
There was enough money this year to fund all eligible number one priorities and more.
”We felt that this year the training of officers or staff was an important issue so if that was a priority number two that training was also funded,” Goodpaster said.
Central Indiana schools we reached out to decided to focus its grant funding on school resource officers.
”They have such an impact on our students and staff on a daily basis and we can measure it,” Chase Lyday, the Chief of Police for Avon Community Schools. “So our school resource officers are the face of safety for our entire program.”
Avon Community Schools got the max $100,000. Lyday said Avon is using it to add a seventh SRO, the most they have ever had on staff.
”We are going through the process right now of vetting candidates and finding the absolute best school resource officer that can serve our kids and families,” Lyday said.
Grant applications had to fall into six categories to get approved. School resource officers, threat assessments, technology, training, active event warning systems and student and parent support systems.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools also got the max $100,000 in grant money.
Mike Johnson, the Director of Safety for HSE, said they are also using the money to offset the cost of SRO salaries.
”I’m not as big a supporter of gadgets or things as I am in making sure we have the people in place to impact our students,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the right people go along way because school safety is so much more than the nightmare scenarios most people think of first.
”We know it’s way more likely for us to have to deal with an injury on a playground, for example, than it is to have to deal with an assailant,” Johnson said.
At the same time, Johnson knows they have to be prepared for anything and every dollar helps.
While some Marion County schools and others were awarded the $100,000 max, Indianapolis Public Schools was awarded $8,500. IPS is one of the largest school systems in the state.
Goodpaster said every first priority grant request was accepted as long as it was eligible.
No one from IPS was available Thursday to comment on why the school system to did not apply for more money.
You can see the full list of schools receiving grant money and how much each system received of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website.