Local schools among recipients for school security grants

2013-11-01T19:10:00Z 2013-11-01T21:50:12Z Local schools among recipients for school security grantsCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

School districts in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties will share in more than $9 million to improve school security, the governor's office announced Friday.

Gov. Mike Pence reported the state would distribute the funding to local schools and school corporations through the Secured School Safety Grant Program.

Pence said the safety of students, teachers and administrators is of the utmost importance to Hoosiers. He said adding security resources allows schools to focus on educating students.

The money is aimed at employing school resource officers and buying security equipment.

The Gary Community School Corp. would receive a $25,000 grant to upgrade its security equipment and will match it with another $25,000.

Sgt. Lionel Hampton, coordinator of security for Gary schools, said the district will upgrade cameras at West Side Leadership Academy.

"It's expensive," he said. "The camera system at that school is 13 years old. We are looking to upgrade the video surveillance equipment throughout the district. This will be the first school to get the upgrade. We're looking for more grant money for school security, equipment and access control."

Hampton said the district has 35 officers, mostly stationed at the secondary schools, with roaming officers overseeing elementary schools.

Shaunna Finley, principal at Neighbors' New Vistas High School in Portage, said the charter school will use its $35,000 grant to hire a school resource officer.

"We definitely need to have one to support our students, teachers and administrators," she said.

The charter school offers students an alternative route to a high school diploma. The school has about 171 students — ranging in age from 14 to 30 — working toward diplomas and another 100 on GEDs.

The legislation establishing the grants was co-sponsored by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso,  and state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a former Hammond police captain, served on the House-Senate conference committee that decided upon the final language of the legislation.

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