By Sarah Lang The Lebanon Reporter
---- — Lebanon Community and Western Boone County Community school corporations have each received $50,000 matching grants from the Indiana Secured School Grant Fund to improve school safety.
The grants are administered by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, which distributed more than $9 million statewide this month to schools that employ a school resource officer, conduct a threat assessment, or purchase equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite the notification of first responders.
Lebanon Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor said LCSC will use the funds for its school resource officer program, which kicked off in full force at the start of school this year in August. Steve Smith and Joe Rady were hired as school resource officers, making up the newly created Lebanon School Police Department. The police department replaced the previous arrangement, where Smith, then a Lebanon Police Department officer, had an office in Lebanon Middle School. Rady was previously a Boone County Sheriff's Office sergeant who was stationed at the Boone County Courthouse.
The school board of trustees approved a three-year commitment this year for the school police department, and Taylor said he felt confident that the corporation would receive this state grant to help fund the program, which has a budget of $180,000. The operating budget this year is $115,000.
Taylor said the grant dollars will support the SRO program and also help supplement Rady’s training to become a school resource officer. Though a police officer, Rady currently does not have the additional training that designates him as a school resource officer. Smith already has the SRO designation.
“We want that whole SRO who serves as a counselor, mentor, someone who works closely with students in more of a capacity than just law enforcement,” Taylor said.
WeBo Superintendent Dr. Judi Hendrix said Western Boone will match the $50,000 grant and use the $100,000 for safety equipment, including interior cameras at the elementary schools and safety locks for classrooms in all three schools. Thorntown and Granville Wells elementary schools currently do not have interior security cameras. And the new safety locks will be able to be locked from the inside, so if a school goes into lockdown mode, a teacher can lock the classroom door from the inside.
“This fits hand in hand with the work we’re doing with safety protocols and ALICE training,” Hendrix said, referencing the alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate training. “It’s all fitting together nicely for our corporation’s safety plan.”