By Joe Bachman, Stevens Point News
WISCONSIN DELLS — Stevens Point Public Schools will be the recipients of the largest monetary award from Attorney General Brad Schimel today out of nearly two-dozen schools.
Schimel will award more than $1.3 Million to 20 schools today, and Stevens Point Public Schools will receive the largest, in the amount of $279,827. The grant will be received by Brian Casey, Director of Technology.
“What we’re using the funds for is to complete safety and security plans that were initiated in 2014,” said Casey.
According to Casey, the district has made a substantial investment in adding shatter resistant film to glass around entrances, securing entrances, adding an iPhone buzz-in system, and an emergency notification system called WAVE Plus. Funding for these security upgrades fell short, which were namely to improve radio communication around schools.
“Radios are crucial to the staff in the buildings when there’s any type of emergency or crisis, and they rely on them heavily, but the radios are outdated and not up to modern standards,” said Casey. “We’re replacing all of our current analog radios with digital radios.”
The move to digital makes for a more efficient and secure network, according to Casey. More PA speakers and amplifiers will also be added to schools throughout the district, as well as video surveillance at Point of Discovery school on West Zinda Drive, which currently does not have it.
As for why Stevens Point received the largest amount in the state, Casey speculates that it could be the hard work put into the writing the grant itself.
“We did a lot of work on this grant — this is a team approach, and Linda Gnerlich is our grant-writing expert, and Don Keck is our building and grounds manager — those two people worked tirelessly to try and come up with a plan.”
Schimel released a statement regarding the recent grant awards:
“Momentum to improve school safety, training, and law enforcement collaboration continues with today’s school safety grant awards,” said Schimel. “In just over two months, the public safety professionals at DOJ, in conjunction with dozens of educational stakeholders, established a meaningful way to improve school safety, through physical improvements to school buildings, and a focus on mental health training for school faculty.”
State Senator Patrick Testin (Stevens Point), who voted earlier this year to create Wisconsin’s $100 million school safety fund, was pleased by the announcement.
“Local schools and the state of Wisconsin are working together to make improvements that will help keep children safe,” said Sen. Testin. “Schools are pinpointing areas of need at the local level, and the state is working to make sure those needs are addressed. This is great news for Wautoma and Stevens Point.”
Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) also gave her thoughts on the grant award.
“I am thrilled for Stevens Point Public Schools and congratulate them on receiving this needed funding. I would like to thank the school board for proactively reaching out to me and outlining their safety needs early in the legislative process — their leadership is commendable,” said Shankland. “I was pleased to vote for the creation of the school safety grant program, and I am heartened that the children of the Stevens Point community will benefit. Students deserve to learn in a safe environment, free from fear, and this funding will help to ensure that stays the reality for Stevens Point Public Schools.”
Security upgrades are slated for hopefully completion by the end of summer, if not a little later.