Millions of dollars granted to improve school safety

Millions of dollars granted to improve school safety
(Whittington, Maranda)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It’s been eight months since a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Ever since, schools across the Ark-La-Tex have been working to keep children safe with active shooter training and other emergency operation plans.

Now, a big boost in money is coming to schools across the state of Louisiana to further improve safety.

Governor John Bel Edwards recently announced the U.S. Department of Education awarded the state $3.6 million for the Grants to States for the School Emergency Management (GSEM) program. The program assists schools in developing and expanding their emergency operation plans.

The Louisiana Department of Education along with the Governor’s Blue Ribbon School Safety Commission will work with LSU’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training/Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education (LSU-NCBRT/ACE) to help provide schools with the necessary training they need.

Caddo Parish Public School Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree believes the money will help with what they are doing to improve school safety for students.

“I do think this money could allow us to enrich the process of developing the things that we do when we’re developing our crisis management plans for all of our facilities, and again help us with how we tie those together with our district goals to improve safety,” said Goree.

Dr. Goree said they have spent the last couple of years dedicating money to improve school safety. He said they’ve added more cameras to school campuses and currently have more than 6,000.

They’ve also provided more training for staff and increased social, emotional and mental health support for students.

Director of Security for Caddo Parish Public Schools Roy Murray said they work to provide scenario-based situations and training for staff and the money could help in that venture.

“Caddo has moved towards a scenario-based training method," stated Murray. “And so what it allows for us to do is to get more training tools to bring in…different speakers, (and) different experts in fields that we may not have the expertise to teach.”

Susan Deniakos is a parent and thinks the grant money will be a good thing for the area.

“Safety is a prime importance so there’s always going to be a need to improve, and right now safety seems to be at the top of the list,” said Deniakos.

Elena Bernth is also a parent. She likes that money is going towards school safety but knows the money could also go to a variety of other school related issues.

“I mean it’s hard to say that that should be the only place where the money goes, but I think it would benefit definitely,” Bernth said. “I mean you could name several places where you wish the money could go.”

Dr. Goree said the parish is working to hire a uniformed police officer for every school in Caddo Parish.

As far as the grant money, it will be distributed over the next five years:

  • Year 1 Total Costs: $749,925
  • Year 2 Total Costs: $749,223
  • Year 3 Total Costs: $749,305
  • Year 4 Total Costs: $749,743
  • Year 5 Total Costs: $661,002 

The total cost of the grant is $3,659,198.

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