Grants to make Hazel Park schools safer, add courses

By: Andy Kozlowski, Kristyne E. Demske | Madison - Park News | Published April 12, 2019

HAZEL PARK — The Hazel Park Public Schools district is among the recipients of a state grant aimed at improving security at schools. The district also received a grant that will add new computer courses for the 2019-20 school year.

The security grant that HPPS received from the Michigan State Police totals $217,750 and will pay for a card swipe access system across all buildings, replacing the traditional keyed entry and giving the district greater control and monitoring of access, including the ability to restrict access to certain times of day based on a cardholder’s duties and credentials.  

No dollar amount was specified for the computer courses grant from retail giant Amazon and online learning company Edhesive, part of the Amazon Future Engineers program. The grant will cover curriculum additions such as “AP Computer Science A: Java Programming,” “Computer Sciences Principles” and “Introduction to Computer Science,” and will provide free training for teachers.     

“The Amazon Future Engineers program will be a great opportunity for Hazel Park High School students to gain access to an AP computer science education,” said Dr. Carla Postell, the district’s director of curriculum integration and instruction. “Access to this … will allow for our students to gain experience and knowledge that will help them be better prepared for careers in computer education.”

For the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant, the Michigan State Police awarded $25 million in grants to 135 public school districts, 66 non-public schools, 20 public charter schools, and nine intermediate school districts and regional educational service agencies. The department received 366 applications requesting more than $46 million for security enhancements through the purchase of technology and equipment.

Jason Guthaus, department analyst for the Michigan State Police grants and community services division, said that schools and school districts could apply for the grants in 11 specific project categories, including hardening entry and access points to the building, adding panic alarms to communicate with law enforcement, and installing public address systems to communicate with students and staff in the building.

“They’re meant to add safety equipment, technology and different measures to improve the safety and security of school buildings,” Guthaus said. “As they do the projects, they’ll submit for reimbursement.”

The work will be completed by June 1, 2020. Schools could choose to apply for grants that required a match or apply for grants that did not require a match, but those that did not require matching funds were limited to $50,000 per building, with a maximum award of $250,000.

Guthaus said that schools had to have an updated emergency operations plan in place in order to apply for the grant.

“This ensures that each school building has some type of plan for incidents that take place that would affect them,” he said.

The grant applications were reviewed by representatives from the Michigan State Police, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriff’s Association, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools and other school safety professionals. A complete list of recipients is available at michigan.gov/cjgrants.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that school safety should always be a priority.

“Every parent should have the peace of mind that their children are receiving an education that allows them to achieve their dreams under the safest possible conditions,” she said, according to a press release from the Michigan State Police.

Jason Zirnis, assistant superintendent of business and operations for HPPS, said the grant will also help free up resources.

“It’s great to see the MSP make funding available to support safety and security,” Zirnis said. “The MSP grant has allowed us to enhance building security across the district, permitting us to focus our local funding to support students.”

The district was also recently informed that the district has been awarded close to $24,000 from the state for kitchen equipment. Samantha Mozdzierz, the district’s food service program director from Chartwells, applied for the grant.

Amy Kruppe, the superintendent of HPPS, said it’s about trying to do right by the residents.

“We continue to look for ways to (pay for) projects to improve our facilities and programs in Hazel Park through as many venues as possible, to offset the cost for taxpayers,” Kruppe said.