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Grants could improve school safety in Ohio

Associated Press • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Ohio schools would see additional grant money made available for security upgrades and face penalties for failing to submit safety plans under a package of school safety initiatives proposed by Gov. John Kasich.

The grants and sanctions were part of a package detailed Wednesday, elements of which have been tucked into a fast-moving midterm budget bill. Ohio’s current law imposes no penalties for failing to file a required safety plan.

State Superintendent Richard Ross said 3,000 schools took advantage of $12 million made available last summer for entryway security and communications.

“There’s so much interest in that, we went through that very, very quickly” Ross said.

New grants, if approved, would be available through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for security upgrades at both public and private schools. Of the total, $10 million would go to public schools and $7 million would go to private ones.

Kasich’s plan also takes several steps the administration says are aimed at strengthening Ohio’s system of school safety plans. Ohio law requires all schools to have plans on file with the attorney general for handling emergencies, such as a school shooter or terrorist attack.

According to figures from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, 84 of 4,438 schools required to file such plans are noncompliant, 43 have outdated plans and the plans of 41 schools are missing.

DeWine said Kasich’s proposals are a helpful next step in Ohio’s school safety efforts, following many of the recommendation of a task force he appointed.

“I keep reminding people of this: Your child’s in school for maybe seven hours a day — that’s probably the safest that child’s going to be — because going to and from school is where you can have an auto accident, you can have problems,” he said. “Still, it’s important that we prepare for catastrophe, when there’s an active shooter in school”

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