Durango public schools have received a $1.1 million grant from the Colorado Division of Homeland Security to support and build upon existing school safety efforts.
For several years, Durango School District 9-R has been increasing safety and security measures at schools, and the grant aims to build upon existing training for staff and existing safety and security projects at district buildings.
To win the grant, 9-R had to establish it had a strong school safety and security program. The state required a district to already have secured buildings; trained staff, students and security personnel; a strong relationship with local law enforcement; and a school district safety task force team, among other requirements.
“Training is a key element to school safety. We will be offering training to staff, families and students around safety and security with the intent to build resilience, inform and raise up awareness to personal safety and how to be prepared,” says Kathy Morris, coordinator of safety and security for 9-R. “Keeping schools safe takes the whole community, it is where our strengths are in our relationships.”
The district will have two years to use the grant funds. Use of funds will focus on:
Building secure vestibules, or greeting areas at entrances, at all schools.Applying ballistic film on all interior classroom corridor doors with windows.Upgrading the district’s bus radio system from analog to digital.Augmenting trainings for staff, students and families.“Whatever systems we build need to be sustainable,” said Superintendent Dan Snowberger. “Our intention is to move the needle in preparedness and recovery.”
The grant comes from Colorado’s School Security Disbursement program. It provides funding to improve security in public school facilities and vehicles and to support training for school personnel.
Statewide, $29 million in grants were awarded to school districts by the Division of Homeland Security.
This summer, work funded by the grant will be used to redesign and rebuild of vestibules at Animas Valley and Needham elementary schools.
“We’ve been working with the school principals and the school accountability committees on the design and the work, and we’ve engaged law enforcement and the fire department in the design,” Morris said.
The district has already put up more ballistic film on interior classroom doors and windows, she said. The ballistic film prevents glass from shattering when hit by a bullet.
Converting bus radios from an analog system to a digital system also will be completed before the next school year, Morris said.