IEMA awards grants to local school districts

MORRIS – Surveillance cameras, portable radios and reinforced doors will be among the new security equipment added to four Grundy County school districts next school year.

Nettle Creek School District 24C, Minooka Community High School District 111, Morris Community High School District 101 and Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Elementary School District 2C received a combined total of $58,000 in grant funds from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s Illinois School and Campus Safety Grant Program.

The funds will go toward school security projects that will improve safety for students, staff and visitors.

The grants were competitive, as only one application per school district or college campus was accepted, and distributed based on each district’s student population.

Statewide, IEMA received grant applications from more than 623 school districts and campuses totaling $54 million in requests, but the agency was only allotted $25 million.

In all, 448 districts were selected and awarded funds for 1,312 projects that would enhance school safety.

“This was a one-time funding opportunity we received this year,” IEMA communications manager Patti Thompson said Monday.

Morris High School received more than $23,000 in funds, which will pay for four security cameras, an access control system for the District 101 Recreation Center, 14 classroom locks and four portable radios.

The high school already has cameras and classroom locks, but Superintendent Pat Halloran said the new equipment will enhance safety, especially near the recreation center.

“We’re really excited,” Halloran said. “The ability to have a video camera and locking system at the District 101 rec center will really help us security wise.”

Construction and installation of the new equipment will take place this summer and will be ready by next school year.

Thompson said IEMA met with school safety experts to determine which projects should be prioritized with the amount of funding that was available. IEMA found that improving security at school entrances was an area that needed the most attention.

“A lot of what we were looking at was whether schools had security at their primary entrances,” Thompson said.

Nettle Creek – which received $5,000 in funding – plans to reinforce the school’s main doors with new, shatter-resistant glass and add an additional camera monitor to the superintendent’s office. Currently, the school only has one security monitor in the secretary’s office.

Superintendent Don McKinney said the district originally asked for more funding for a larger project, but was awarded the maximum amount of funds based on Nettle Creek’s student enrollment.

“Anytime we can get dollars from the state to help support our school – be it for safety, security or curriculum – we are always happy to receive those funds and put them to good use,” McKinney said.

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Safety grants awarded to Grundy County school districts

• Nettle Creek School District 24C – $5,000

• Minooka Community High School District 111 – $28,399

• Morris Community High School District 101 – $23,141

• Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Elementary School District 2C – $1,599