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Nearly $800K awarded to area schools in state safety funding


Gov. Mike Parson recently announced 10 area schools are among 566 Missouri school districts, charter schools and nonpublic schools to receive grant funds from the second round of funding for the School Safety Grant Program.

Total local funding comes to about $800,000, with West Plains and Willow Springs school districts being awarded the largest amounts at $200,000 and $150,000 respectively.

“Improving the safety and security of our schools is an issue we can all support, and these grants help ensure our schools remain safe environments for Missouri children to learn,” Parson said. “While threats of violence are something we never want to see in our classrooms, we must be prepared and have proper resources and response plans in place. This second round of school safety grants continues our commitment to doing just that and helping keep kids safe.”

The grants were administered through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) through a competitive grant application process.

Parson approved an additional $50 million to expand the School Safety Reimbursement Grant Program in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The grant program aims to support school safety improvements, including physical security upgrades and associated technology like door locks, monitoring systems, epinephrine auto-injectors and automatic external defibrillators.

This second round of funding was also available to private schools. An additional 169 school districts and charter schools received $20 million in funding during the first round of grants from the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, officials added.

Schools applied for the DESE-administered grants through a competitive application process. The maximum amount awarded to any one district was $300,000 and the West Plains R-7 School District was awarded $200,000.

"We are excited to have been awarded funding from the school safety grant provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education," said West Plains R-7 Human Resources Director Matt Orchard, also in charge of implementing school safety training and security improvements.

“At the West Plains School District, we are committed to providing a safe environment for our students, staff and community. This grant will help us improve infrastructure, further secure campuses, improve communication, and enhance the 24/7 monitoring of locations in the district,” he explained. “The funding will be used throughout the next several months to enhance many of the recent school safety improvements that the district has made. Some of those recent projects include access control to all buildings, updating emergency planning, securing perimeters, expanding security cameras, obtaining tools to enhance communication and many other school safety initiatives. We are committed to upgrading our school safety measures in an effort to provide the safest environment possible for our school community."

The Willow Springs School District was awarded $150,000.

“The Willow Springs School District has worked for years to create the safest possible environment for our students,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Spence said. “This safety grant will allow us to continue to upgrade current safety practices along with working on a new secure entry at the middle school. This is another really exciting opportunity for our district.”

Other grant recipients in the area include Fairview, receiving $99,200; and Ava, Dora, Glenwood, Howell Valley, Lutie, Oregon-Howell (Koshkonong) and Winona, all receiving $50,000 each.

“Missouri families continue to tell education leaders that ensuring their child’s school remains safe and secure is their biggest concern," said State Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “We thank Governor Parson and the General Assembly for their ongoing support and commitment to ensuring our schools remain among the safest places for our students.”