The school districts in Elkhorn and Whitewater each received more than $100,000 in school safety grant money, the state announced Tuesday.
Of the nearly $5 million distributed Tuesday, the state Department of Justice awarded the Elkhorn Area School District $138,994 and the Whitewater Unified School District $100,063, according to a news release.
Elkhorn plans to use its grant money on shatter-proof film for school entrances, a new screening system for visitors, an emergency alert system and trauma-informed training for staff.
The grant money will also go toward emergency communication radios and a PA system upgrade.
The WAVE system functions like a fire alarm, alerting the school over the PA system about an ongoing threat, Superintendent Jason Tadlock said. There are buttons throughout the school and with some staff members that immediately alert local law enforcement about an active school shooter or violent event.
All schools will also get the Raptor Screening System, which can run background checks on visitors, Tadlock said. The system also prints out a visitor badge with a photo and logs the entry electronically.
Tadlock said the district has been improving school safety for the past several years, but this grant allowed them to address some remaining areas of need.
Whitewater’s school district is also adding the WAVE and Raptor systems to its schools, Superintendent Mark Elworthy said.
Whitewater will use its grant money for additional cameras and walkie-talkies, too.
“We know that safety is important for our students,” Elworthy said. “In order for learning to occur, students need to be in a safe environment.”
The Department of Justice said in the release there will be a “second round” of funding distributed in October that will address student mental health, create local School Safety Intervention teams and add more physical security upgrades.
Schools must send an “intent to apply” notice to the Office of School Safety by Aug. 13, the release states.
In other grant news, Whitewater learned Tuesday that the Jefferson County Mental Health Consortium it is a part of received $75,000 for a mental health services grant from the state Department of Public Instruction. Whitewater is one of seven school districts in the consortium.
The grant money will go toward mental health screening, staff training for social emotional learning and parent/community outreach to support mental health needs, according to a Whitewater news release.