Royal Oak Schools receives $578,000 safety grant from Michigan State Police

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 27, 2018

File photo provided by the Michigan State Police

ROYAL OAK — In the spring, the state of Michigan announced that it would appropriate $25 million to the 2018 Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program.

Royal Oak Schools received $578,175, which it will match at an amount of 25 percent, to improve school safety around the district.

Planned improvements include security enhancements, interior door locks, wayfinding signage, additional door access card reading and two-way radios at select schools.

“There have been a number of very recent upgrades in school safety,” Royal Oak Schools Director of Staff and Student Services Pat Wolynski said in a district press release. “This technology is expensive but effective, and it will help us stay current when it comes to keeping our students safe.”

Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said the district has security systems in place, such as doors with card readers, but the grant helps to expand security measures.

“We are expanding door locks to different types of locks that can more quickly and easily be locked on the classroom side,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re also expanding our two-way radios so staff and support staff can be reached quickly.”

She added that schools in the district would also improve their interior signage so that, in times of an emergency, first responders in the buildings would quickly know the way to an exit.

Jason Guthaus, of the Michigan State Police Grants and Community Services Division, said the MSP announced grant recipients Oct. 31, and they have until Sept. 30, 2019, to spend the money.

“This is the third school safety appropriation from the state,” he said.

The MSP also distributed school safety grants in 2015 and 2017.

“This particular one was focused on the hardening of actual physical facilities, so some of that looked like improving entryways to schools,” Guthaus said.

He added that the grant also focused on safety film for windows to help make them more shatter-resistant, and communication methods including mobile phone apps, intercom systems and radio upgrades.

“It’s a good opportunity for the schools to improve their safety and create those safe learning and working environments for their students and their employees,” he said.

The MSP awarded the $25 million to 114 public school districts, 42 nonpublic schools, 22 public charter schools and 10 intermediate school districts or regional education services agencies, according to a Michigan State Police press release.

“These grants are part of the proactive approach the state is taking to help prevent tragedies in our schools and provide for the safe learning environment that our kids need and deserve,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “A multifaceted approach is necessary to keep our schools safe, and these grants are a component of the comprehensive effort to keep Michigan school children safe.”

The MSP received 407 applications requesting more than $69 million, and the applications were reviewed by a committee that included representatives from the MSP, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools, school security personnel and the governor’s office, according to the release.

“The Competitive School Safety Grant Program will provide the resources needed by many schools throughout our state to ensure students have a safe learning environment,” MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey   said in a statement. “The review committee gave priority to proposals that sought to secure access points at school buildings, as it is considered one of the best and most cost-effective ways to improve school safety and security.”