Butler County public, private schools get more money for security upgrades

$3.57 million comes to county, with Hamilton Schools getting the largest portion.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The latest round of Ohio school security grants saw more Butler County schools, both public and private, receiving state funds to help make their school buildings safer from violent attacks.

In this latest, fourth round of school security grants, more than 900 schools received portions of the total $68 million distributed since 2022 under the Ohio K-12 School Safety Grant Program, said Governor Mike DeWine late last week.

Locally, Butler County schools will get $3.57 million.

Locally, Hamilton Schools received the largest amount — $1.2 million — for the 9,000-student during this phase of grant distribution.

The 17,500-student Lakota Schools, which is the largest in Butler County and the eighth most populous in the state, got $950,000.

Mike Holbrook, superintendent of Hamilton’s public schools, said the security funds will be put to good use.

“Hamilton City Schools always places school safety as a top priority. The district is grateful to receive additional dollars during the last round of safety grant allocations to enhance the safety and security of our schools,” said Holbrook.

“Hamilton will be using the dollars to upgrade and add additional security cameras throughout the district and upgrade PA systems in our schools.”

“Safety Grant monies cannot be used to fund personnel, such as school resource officers (school police officers). The monies must be spent on infrastructure and an equipment list is provided with the grant applications. Potential training sessions for employees on any newly purchased equipment is an acceptable allocation,” Holbrook said.

Other stipulations of the state grants include the funds must be spent prior to the end of 2023.

Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for the Lakota Local Schools, said improving the security of school building infrastructure will be further enhanced by the $950,000.

“The safety of our students and staff is always our first priority, and we are very grateful,” Fuller said.

“As part of our regular assessments of our buildings, we work in partnership with our school resource officers to identify areas that could be enhanced or updated to provide more security in our schools. Generally speaking, we have already begun working on improving security cameras and other areas in our facilities,” she said.

Badge entry security systems will be among the focus areas for Fairfield Schools’ $350,000 grant, said district spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.

“Any funds remaining will go into updating our camera systems … and they will be used to purchase PA (public address) systems for the seven buildings that qualified for this grant opportunity,” said Gentry-Fletcher, whose districts enroll 10,000 students, which live in Fairfield City and Fairfield Twp.

Madison Schools Superintendent Jeff Staggs said the district’s award of $300,000 will also be used to improve its PA system on the school system’s K-12th grade campus.

Edgewood Schools received $50,000, while Middletown’s public schools will get $800,000.

Dan Wohler, spokesman for Middletown City Schools, said the $800,000 “will be spent across our seven elementary schools and Highview 6th Grade Center” with $100,000 for each building.

“The funds will be used for security infrastructure across those eight buildings, including enhancements to building access control, facility monitoring, and visitor management,” Wohler said.

Two private schools in Butler County — Hamilton’s St. Peter in Chains, which enrolls students in kindergarten to 8th grade — received $100,00 and the K-8th grade Scared Heart School in Fairfield received $16,374.

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