Keeping schools safe is a top priority. Not just for the local school corporations, but also for the state.
Now, area schools can remain confident that they will have the support of local law enforcement for another year – and beyond. Indiana Department of Homeland Security announced that various schools throughout the Hoosier state will be awarded thousands of dollars in grant monies.
Those funds provided by the Secured School Safety Grant program will help schools pay salaries for an on-campus officer, security equipment and other items necessary to protect students.
These monies are “very helpful because the SROs [school resource officers] are very much needed for our corporation,” said Jeff Canady, Logansport Community School Corporation’s designated safety specialist. “Statistics show that where SROs are present, then violence is reduced.”
So, Logansport will use its $100,000 grant monies toward the salaries of the high school SRO, Eric Binney, the junior high SRO, Sam Fry, and the officers who work on a rotating basis at Columbia’s Sixth-Grade Academy.
Because the grant is a matching initiative, the corporation will come up with its own $100,000 to cover the remainder of expenses. According to Canady, Logansport Community School Corporation [LCSC] has used these funds, as well as past grant monies, to pay for security cameras, the “buzz-in system” at the doors, and the Raptor visitor management system, which allows for school workers to conduct a background check in order to ensure school visitors are not on a sex offender list.
All of these features help maintain a safe environment for the students, Canady said, adding that the officers are extremely valuable. “We want our students to be safe and to feel confident enough to know they can seek help with the SROs. Having them here … helps [to reduce] problems occurring in the buildings.”
Student safety also is of utmost importance at Pioneer Regional School Corporation, which received $43,000 in grant funds.
Pioneer Superintendent Charles Grable said the funds will be applied toward the school’s SRO, Brian Swartzell, who is with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department. Additional monies will be provided through the sheriff’s department and the school.
Swartzell oversees security and safety in both the high school and the elementary school.
“He’s building relationships with the kids,” said Grable. “His presence here makes our students feel confident and content.”
That’s what students at Caston School Corporation have noticed as well, said Superintendent Cindy Douglass. Their SRO “not only provides security, but also many educational programs and services … ”
According to Douglass, 100 percent of the grant worth $40,000 and an additional match from the corporation will be used for the officer’s salary and benefits. The officer, who is with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, remains on campus each day and attends school events, she said.
Lewis Cass’s SRO, Ryan Preston with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, does the same for the school he serves.
“Having an SRO makes the entire school corporation feel safe,” said Dr. Tim Garland, superintendent of Lewis Cass Schools. “We also use our SRO to help educate our students and staff about current law enforcement issues. It also allows the students to comfortably talk to the SRO about concerns or issues that are concerning to the students.”
His salary will be provided through the school’s awarded matching grant monies. Lewis Cass received $32,000, to which Garland is extremely appreciative. Without the funds, he does not think the school would be able to support an on-campus officer.
According to Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Secured School Board allocated more than $19 million in matching state grant funds toward school safety investment for the current school year.