Pence announces grants to improve school security

A school resource officer at an Indiana school.

Gov. Mike Pence has announced more than $9 million in grants to local schools and school corporations to improve school safety.

Pence said in an announcement Friday at Cedar Elementary School in Avon, 10 miles west of Indianapolis, said the Secured School Safety Grant Program provides matching grants to school corporations, charter schools, or coalitions of school corporations. The funding allows schools to add school resource officers, conduct threat assessments and to purchase equipment to restrict access to school or expedite the notification of first responders.

Morgan and Issac have a very watchful mom. She makes sure they get to the neighbors safely and to school.

"A lot of us, we have to walk our kids to school," Shelly Bailey said. "So it's very important to me there's many people around and watching out."

She was glad to hear the governor say her school district in Lebanon is among 241 Indiana districts and charters getting $9 million in grants to boost security.

The Connecticut school shootings sparked the new Indiana law making the grants possible.

Some of the schools will use the money to buy new security cameras. They are already spending hundreds of thousands, up to a million dollars, to install high security glass at school entrances and new security doors requiring visitors be buzzed in and issued security passes.

Police train in active shooter scenarios across Indiana so officers learn the layout of buildings should the worst happen.

Schools like Carmel train students to run outside or hide and lock doors if a shooter is spotted. Hamilton Southeastern and others tell students to fight an intruder if they have to, but deterrence first.

That means cops in schools and close to half the new grants go to fund that.

Lebanon schools will now get a new school safety officer. Not a security guard, but trained "to act in a capacity students can relate to outside of a law enforcement environment," said Dr. Robert Taylor, Lebanon Community Schools. "It's a combination of school counselor, trusted adult and a strong mentor."

Of the 241 new grants, 148 are for installing new security equipment. The maximum grant is $50,000.

The grant program was created by the Legislature earlier this year after the Republican-controlled House pulled earlier provisions of a bill that would've required all public schools to have gun-carrying employees during school hours.

School Safety Grant distribution