The Western Line School District announced last week it was awarded a grant in the amount of $500,000 from the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
“The COPS Office is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice that awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders and all levels of law enforcement,” a press release from WLSD stated.
The half million dollar grant will enable the district to improve the overall safety and security of all campuses and buildings, as well as its staff and student body.
In addition, it will allow for a more extensive partnership with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department as they continue to provide safe schools for their communities.
WLSD Superintendent Lawrence Hudson shared how the district was able to acquire the COPS grant.
“Since July of 2018, we have placed great emphasis on student safety. We have researched and applied for many small grants and some were awarded and some were not,” he said. “When I discovered this grant we decided to give it our best shot by being very creative and unique in expressing our needs. Obviously, the scorers believed in our efforts and awarded us the maximum amount available which was $500,000.”
It has been well documented over the years how critical having a secure and safe campus for faculty, staff and students is.
To that end, WLSD has strived by devising a plan for which the COPS grant funds will be used.
“Some of the items we wrote into the grant were remote access doors and gates, new intercom system, new camera system, new alarm system, new doors to classrooms with emergency locks, school lock down and emergency lock and notification system, support for mental health, supplies for safety awareness, and professional development for all staff,” Hudson said.
Most parents would likely be of the consensus that, “You can’t put a price on safety.”
The improvements and reinforcements the COPS grant affords WLSD are such that parents can have a sense of reassurance when releasing their children to the care of the district as most of the funds will be used to secure the campuses, buildings, and doors where our students are staff are throughout the day, according to Hudson.
He was asked if there had already been aims or strides made by the district to improve upon the overall safety and security of all campuses and buildings prior to receiving the COPS grant.
“We collaborated with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department in 2018 to place Deputy Sheriffs on each school campus in the capacity of School Resource Officer. We also employed 10 School Safety Officers,” Hudson said. “We purchased new two-way radio equipment to improve our communications, upgraded some cameras and monitors and we purchased all new buses in 2019 and placed two digital cameras on each bus.”
In addition, WLSD Hired a safety director for the district, and provided more professional development to staff and students.
Hudson said overall the COPS grant allows him and the district as a whole to continue to ensure their school community and stakeholders that safety is a top priority for the staff and students.
He added, “We look to advance our partnership with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and all other local emergency management entities to provide a safe and nurturing school environment to our staff and students. Students cannot excel in an environment that is not safe and conducive to learning.”