Local Indiana schools receive grants for school safety | #schoolsaftey

On Aug. 29, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb approved a nearly $30 million grant to enhance Indiana school security—The Secured School Safety Grant. The grant, funded through House Bill 1492, was enacted Sept. 1. 

Its record-breaking sum was divided among 474 K-12 schools across the state and allocated in various categories,  two-thirds of which went to increasing the number of school resources and law enforcement officers within local school systems. No Indiana schools applied for post-incident counseling, yet seven applied for firearm training for staff members. 

Muncie Community Schools received $100,000. Chief Communications Officer Andy Klotz said via email the money “goes toward the salaries of our School Security Officers, and we’re grateful for those funds.” 

Director of School Security for Delaware Community Schools, Scott Blakely, said the corporation’s funds will go towards preventive measures to keep anything unsafe from happening, which includes: updated public address systems, security cameras and an increase in security officers. Blakely, who oversees school resource officers at Delaware Community Schools and works in coordination with local law enforcement, said the proposed increased number of officers under his direction is a welcome one.

“It’s a blessing for us to have our school resource officers…They’re just a part of our school family,” he said.

A sentiment echoed by Klotz via email, “Our SSOs [school security officers] do a great job of building relationships with our students and staff as well as responding to any situations that arise. They have become friendly faces to our students who know they can go to them for help with various needs.” 

Future elementary educator and current student at Ball State University’s Teachers College, Claire Hapner, agreed focusing on prevention is best to provide “peace of mind in the first place.” 

First-year elementary education major Claire Hapner poses for a photo Oct. 5 in Woodworth Dining Hall. Katherine Hill, DN

A peace of mind that is needed in a reality, like what Hapner said her professors have warned her and her classmates about, where the chance of gun violence is high. 

 “My professors [keep] telling me, ‘This is a problem that you probably have to deal with’…From the teacher’s standpoint, where the world is going is very scary… All I know is that it’s gotten worse. Students could very easily find a way to have access to those weapons,” Hapner said. 

The New England Journal of Medicine reported “Gun violence and school shootings are a uniquely American epidemic… Each day, 12 children die from gun violence in America. Another 32 are shot and injured.” 

She said her response comes from the prominence of gun violence in recent years, which she said could be lessened by an increase in government regulation. Hapner said the “freedom” has only led to loss and suffering.

A solution for some to the problem is firearms training, which Hapner did not agree with.

“[It] is never the way to address any problem—especially dealing with kids,” Hapner said. 

For Hapner, the possibility of having to fire a firearm in such a situation is not one she would like to consider. She said shooting a gun is too dangerous for her to “ever, ever do.”

Delaware Community Schools, however, are not following that path, Blakely said while other school districts have applied for firearm training with their staff members, Delaware Community Schools did not.

“Teachers have a hard enough job right now to manage the stuff that is on their plate, so it’s part of my job and my team’s job to make sure that they don’t have to worry about that,” Blakely said.

Hapner made it clear she has never experienced anything threatening in school—but has thought about it—and feels that while the problem was being talked about, not enough was being done to solve it.

It’s not uncommon for those who have experienced something threatening in school to have difficulty opening up about it. Counseling can be seen as an effective resource in those types of sensitive situations.

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Amber Pietz, DN Design

Blakely said each one of their buildings has a counseling office, but if outside counseling is needed, Delaware Community Schools do have a memorandum in partnership with a counseling agency. 

While Delaware Community Schools seems to have a plan for counseling, the question remains of what will happen in other districts around the state. Something that will tell with time, but stays in mind like the zero listed in the column for post-incident counseling.

For students at Ball State seeking similar help, the Counseling Center is open 8a.m.-5p.m. Monday-Friday with professionally trained staff inside Lucina Hall. Students can call to make an appointment at 765-285-1736 or use the 24/7 crisis hotline: 765-285-4673.

Contact Katherine Hill with comments at [email protected] or on Instagram @cool_kate_04 .

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