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Public schools to receive funding to increase school security

by Amber McDown

Louisiana is planning to spend $21 million to increase school security by creating single-entry access points at public schools as well as paying for other types of security equipment. This will be financed under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was approved by congress last year.

”We intend to use one-time funds to harden the perimeters of our schools,” state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said. ”These funds will support this foundational element of school safety.”

The money will be able to be used for physical security measures such as creating single point entries and purchasing  equipment such as security cameras and metal detectors. Having a single entry point is considered a best practice in security, but most schools were not built with this in mind.

Superintendent Brumley plans to award 42 school systems approximately $500,000 each to help increase security across the state. 

”We want to put out real money because we know these are expensive,” said Brumley.

But here in Webster Parish, the district has been making improvements across the parish for several years now, including having most of the schools already set up for single-entry. 

“What I’m eager to find out is, can that money be used for maybe a few other things than just the single entry?” said Superintendent Johnny Rowland. “Because what we’re blessed with in Webster right now is the majority of our schools are already established as single-entry schools. The problem that we’re running into is, after the day starts, maintaining single entry into the schools — not having that side door propped open, not having that other door unlocked, whatever it may be. It’s just maintaining and doing our due diligence during the day to stay that way. But what I’m wondering is…can that money be used for added perimeter fencing, let’s say, which could really help at some of our campuses? Those are the questions I have. We’ve been very proactive already in Webster to establish a lot of this. I’m looking forward to future conversations to see just what exactly that money can be used for. But we’re thankful, we’re appreciative, and we’re glad that the federal government down through the LDOE is recognizing these needs.”

The Department of Education has advised school leaders to solicit ideas from educators, parents, and others in the community for keeping our schools safe. Last year, the state held its first school safety summit, and more that 800 educators and first responders attended. The next safety summit is scheduled for June 15 at Raising Cane’s River Center in Baton Rouge.

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