Both Warren County school districts applied for the grant money and were denied.
The Warren County R-III and Wright City R-II school districts were not awarded state money for school safety improvements.
Both county school districts applied for part of the state’s $20 million in grant money for school safety grants to support physical safety improvements in Local Education Agencies across the state. The money was distributed through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s school safety grant program. The Warren County R-III district received a total score of 40 points on their application. The Wright City R-II district received 34 points. Grant applications were awarded to 169 school districts and charter schools who received 56 points or higher on their applications. The grants were scored on average building age, assessed value per Average Daily Attendance and status survey.
The Warren County R-III school district planned to use the money to harden schools and make access to district schools tougher, Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said. Because they were not approved for the money, the district will proceed with what they already had planned for summer training. They will work with Warren County Emergency Management on ways to harden the district schools. They will also work with local law enforcement agencies. Klinginsmith stressed retaining School Resource Officers is an issue the district faces.
“We’ll continue to work with the police departments,” Klinginsmith said. “Continue to work with Emergency Management and go through all our training exercises and review our existing facilities and see what we can do better always. But the big thing really is working closely with police. And the police having the resources they need to provide the services here.”
Wright City R-II Assistant Superintendent of HR, Facilities and Transportation Jeremy Way thinks the emphasis in the grant awards were placed on certain improvements, such as hardware, cameras and safety glass. He noted the district already has cameras in the buildings and a way to identify individuals before they enter a district building.
Way said one of the district’s focuses with the application was on fencing between district property.
“If you’ve been between the middle school and West out here, we’ve got some playgrounds and stuff and there’s really no fencing there,” Way said. “And so we’d like to enclose some of this stuff.”
Way said some needs for safety improvements were already identified in the district’s five-year facility plan. One of the biggest areas identified was working on exterior hardware and doors, which is still happening and part of the district’s plan. Way said the district will focus on safety inside the buildings and then work out to district property outside of buildings.
“We feel very good with our safety protocols and what we have in place,” Way said. “Some of these things are just things that we would like to have to make it even better.”
Klinginsmith and Way are both hopeful there will be another opportunity to utilize state money in the future. Klingsmith cited the $50 million in Gov. Mike Parsons’ budget to be dispersed anywhere.
“We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do,” Klinginsmith said. “It just takes money to do things and right now, the funds aren’t there. We’re in kind of a holding pattern.”
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