Lakota, Fairfield schools get biggest portion of state funds to boost security

Earlier this week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced more than 1,000 K-12 individual school buildings and districts will be sharing parts of a $47 million in grants to enhance school security. 	Two Butler County school districts – Lakota and Fairfield – are among the top five school systems in the state to receive the largest amounts of money. Pictured are Middletown Police officers recently training for an active school shooter scenario. (Photo By Nick Graham\Journal-News)

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Earlier this week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced more than 1,000 K-12 individual school buildings and districts will be sharing parts of a $47 million in grants to enhance school security. Two Butler County school districts – Lakota and Fairfield – are among the top five school systems in the state to receive the largest amounts of money. Pictured are Middletown Police officers recently training for an active school shooter scenario. (Photo By Nick Graham\Journal-News)

Some area school districts are getting funds for bolstering security measures as the new school year start approaches.

Earlier this week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced more than 1,000 K-12 individual school buildings and districts will be sharing parts of a $47 million in grants to enhance school security.

Two Butler County school districts — Lakota and Fairfield — are among the Top 5 school systems in the state to receive the largest amounts of money, according to reporting from the Journal-News’ media partner WCPO-TV.

Lakota will get $950,000 while Fairfield Schools will receive $350,000.

“The goal is that no matter where a child goes to school that these basic safety needs are met within that school where the child goes,” DeWine said.

Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for the 17,000-student Lakota Schools, said the district, which is most populous in Butler County and ninth largest in Ohio, appreciates the security enhancement money.

“We are very grateful to be a recipient of Gov. DeWine’s K-12 School Safety Grant,” said Fuller. “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 for our students and staff. And this money will be used to help fund this work.”

“While we will not make the specifics public because they are part of our safety plan, generally speaking, we are looking at improving security cameras and other areas in our facilities.”

Fairfield School officials were unavailable to comment on their plans for the $350,000 security funding for the 10,000-sudent district.

Improving school building security has been a priority for years for all school systems but efforts to upgrade protections have jumped sharply in the wake of May’s deadly school shooter attack in Texas that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Area districts, including Middletown this week and Talawanda next week, are conducting active shooter drills prior to start of classes.

ExploreVideo & story: Active shooter in school: Middletown cops, schools practice for horrific scenario

More schools and school districts can apply for future grants and according to officials in DeWine’s office, there remains $53 million available for eligible applicant districts, WCPO-TV reported.

In Lakota Schools Superintendent Matt Miller’s online community chat this week, he said the new state funds will be used to update security cameras and “hardening the entrances” at some of the district’s 24 school buildings that need such security upgrades.

Lakota has school police officers at each of its school campuses and Miller said the district will add more for the 2022-2023 school year, which starts classes later this month.

“We are also increasing the SROs (police school resource officers) at the high schools just because we have the most students there and I think that makes sense,” said Miller.

Lakota’s two high schools – Lakota East in Liberty Twp. and Lakota West in West Chester Twp. – are among the largest student enrollments of any high schools in Ohio.

Journal-News media partner WCPO-TV contributed to this story.

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