Two area school systems will soon receive part of $57.8 million from the state to bolster their school building security.
New Miami and Ross schools were among the hundreds of Ohio school districts to recently get state funds to help make their schools safer through adding facility and structural security enhancements.
“We are being proactive in keeping our schools safe in Ohio. Student and staff safety is paramount,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “These safety grants are helping schools create environments that are secure and welcoming for teachers and their students.”
New Miami, which is the smallest public school district in southwest Ohio with just over a 600-student enrollment, will receive $300,000.
Ross Schools will get $500,000 from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and Governor DeWine’s Safety Grant program.
New Miami Superintendent Rhonda Parker said the grant funds will help improve security measures already in place on the district’s K-12 campus.
“New Miami Schools sees receiving the … grant as a great opportunity to enhance the safety and security measures that currently exist in our schools. The $300,000 will give us opportunities to expedite the upgrades and improvements of the resources, tools, and safety measures that have been strategically budgeted for over a period of years,” said Parker.
“We applied for the grant because it is what is best for our students, staff, and our community,” Parker said of the now third round of state grants distributed this year.
“David Wright, dean of culture and engagement for New Miami did the heavy lifting applying for the grant. He noted during our recent vulnerability assessment some areas of need and he took a very systematic approach to find ways to address the needs and areas that showed a need for improvement according to the assessment results,” she said.
“The equipment and systems we will be able to bring to our schools will address the needed areas and create a safer educational experience for our students, staff and community.”
Chad Konkle, superintendent of Ross Schools, said the $500,000 grant will be divided among the district’s five schools.
The state had stipulated a $100,000 total grant limit per school building in awarding hundreds of current and past applicant districts.
Konkle said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded these funds. We live in a world of uncertainty, but this money will be used to do all we can to ensure a safe learning environment for our kids.”
“Safety is always our top priority. This has been a competitive process, and we are so glad to have finally been chosen,” he said, noting Ross was not among the districts chosen in the first two rounds of the state grants despite applying for the funds.
After two consecutive tax levy defeats in recent months, Ross Schools are in the preliminary stage of partial state takeover of some of its financial operations.
The new security funds, however, can not be used for daily operations of school districts and are only designated for security enhancements.
Steve Castator, director of personnel and fiscal services for Ross Schools, said current state funding “can only stretch so far.”
“This is a big win for the district because there is no money in the general fund for these types of upgrades. In a time of financial crisis, we see this as a major opportunity,” said Castator.
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