Local schools to benefit from Michigan State Police grants

By: Kristyne E. Demske, Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 9, 2019

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Multiple schools in Clinton Township will be bolstering their safety measures, due to being on the receiving end of a bevy of Michigan State Police grants.

MSP awarded $25 million in grants to 135 public school districts, 66 nonpublic schools, 20 public charter schools, and nine intermediate school districts and regional educational service agencies from the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant Program. 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, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, the Michigan Department of Education, the 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.

 

Local schools look to safety
Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education President Jason Davidson said his district received $189,692 in grant money after pushing for a better security camera system — “doing upgrades on systems that are quite old, black and white in some areas,” he said.

He said high-quality, high-definition cameras will be utilized inside and outside school buildings, even establishing a system where the district’s director of operations could access the system remotely in case of an incident.

The next step, Davidson said, is to put together a request for proposal and go out for a contracting bid. Due to installation requiring little traffic flow, he expected the new cameras to be installed by the end of summer.

“I think at times (students and staff walk on eggshells),” he said. “I’m in a lot of schools and I don’t ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe in schools. Of course, there’s a lot more attention brought to it today … If you’re in an environment that’s not safe, it’s hard to learn. I honestly don’t feel we have that situation.”

Chippewa Valley Schools Director of School and Community Relations Diane Blain said grant funds totaling $48,179 will be used to purchase and install a new state-of-the-art public address system at both Chippewa Valley and Dakota high schools.

She said this grant will complement other safety measures tied in with the school’s last successful bond, including the redesign of both high school entrances, new security cameras and new door locks.

“The current systems at both schools are old, out of date and no longer supported,” Blain said. “Schoolwide notification systems are vital to the management of the building and an important part of any school safety plan.”

Julian Petzold is the principal of Trinity Lutheran School in Clinton Township, which received nearly $49,000 in grant money.

The school’s grant submission revolved around door issues and being able to implement about 16 different doors, accessible not by keys, but by fobs. He said this will help alleviate the use of keys for most rooms within the schools, including classrooms, closets and offices. Non-staff members will be “very limited.”

“It really is all about controlling the access, from the building to the church to the community center, and vice versa,” Petzold said.

He hopes fixing the doors, which are part of the school’s original construction in 1954, will begin this summer and be completed by fall. The timeline is tentative, due to the hiring of a contractor.

Petzold said “people are way more aware of safety in schools than ever before.

“We just notice all that stuff more than ever before … (Now) we can be much more in control of every single person moving about the building,” he said.

The Macomb Intermediate School District was granted $97,199.

“These funds allow schools to enhance the school safety programs already in place with needed equipment that will support existing school safety initiatives,” said Nancy Buyle, school safety and crisis management consultant for the MISD. “We work closely with the Macomb County Office of Emergency Management, school districts across the county, and local and state law enforcement to coordinate these efforts.

“This partnership, which has been in existence for years, allows these agencies and organizations to meet with school districts to share plans and work cooperatively as we implement comprehensive actions to keep our students and staff safe.”

Staff Writer Alex Szwarc contributed to this report.