Crawford County's four school districts will split about $72,000 in grants from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
Regional Superintendent Monte Newlin said the money for local schools is part of $226,506.75 in grants going to 10 of the 12 public school districts in Clay, Crawford, Jasper, Lawrence and Richland counties. The money will fund 21 projects designed to enhance security in schools and on college campuses.
Robinson Unit 2 will receive $39,785.04. The grant will go toward upgrading and expanding the district's security camera systems at all four schools, allowing officials "to better see who is coming and going," Superintendent Josh Quick said.
The district also will purchase two-way radio systems for each building. This will not only improve communications between the schools, but allow them to contact first-responders in emergency situations.
Hutsonville Unit 1, Palestine Unit 3 and Oblong Unit 4 will use their grants to fund one project each.
Unit 1 will use its $9,100 grant to remove some blind spots, Superintendent Jule Kramer explained. The district will buy cameras to cover areas of its outside perimeter not currently monitored. It will also replace some older cameras already and in use and buy a new hard drive for the system.
Unit 3 Superintendent Joe Sorenberger said his district will use its $8,014.71 grant to install cameras inside and outside its schools to help security.
Unit 4 will get $14,875. Superintendent Jeff Patchett said the money will go toward purchase of new, steel doors with safety glass windows for both the exterior and interior of Oblong High School. Replacing doors had already been identified as a Health and Life Safety project the district intended to tackle.
Additionally, Illinois Eastern Community College District, which operates Lincoln Trail College, has received $20,524.27 from the same IEMA grant. It will go for the installation of an emergency public address system at LTC, Public Information and Marketing Coordinator Danelle Hevron told the Daily News.
Also, in Lawrence County, Red Hill Unit 10 will get $25,000 to help pay for three projects, while Lawrencville Unit 20 will receive $10,995 for a single project.
Statewide, IEMA is funding more than 1,300 projects in 448 schools, community colleges and state universities.
The funds will enable schools to purchase such safety items as reinforced doors, shatter-proof glass, physical locks, and other security measures that will enhance safety for students, staff, and visitors.
"With the ever-present threat of violence in school, these funds are the right prescription at the right time," Newlin said.
"It is more typical than not that general maintenance grants schools receive do not allow for such expenditures and with shrinking dollars available for programs, staff, and other expenses, unfortunately, allocation of funds for school safety often gets pushed down on the list of priorities," he added.
IEMA announced the Illinois School and Campus Safety Grant Program earlier this year. Only one application per school district or college campus was accepted, although an application could include multiple projects. The agency received grant applications totaling more than $54 million from 623 school districts and campuses.
More than two dozen individuals assisted with criteria development, review and evaluation of the applications, which included nearly 2,200 projects. These subject matter experts included representatives from state and local emergency management, academia, law enforcement, private security and school security.
"Our top priority for funding was to help schools establish a baseline security capability through such measures as reinforced doors, shatter-resistant glass and physical locks at primary public entrances," said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.
"These are the types of security enhancements experts say can buy valuable time for schools to implement emergency plans," Monken added.