September 2, 2013

Safety ordinance up for vote

Legislation would allow county schools more access to grants.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Cass County Commissioners will vote on an ordinance Tuesday that would allow Cass County schools to apply for state grants that fund initiatives to increase school safety.

Logansport Community School Corporation Superintendent Michele Starkey said the legislation will give the Logansport, Pioneer and Southeastern school corporations the opportunity to apply for match grants to assist in projects like the installation of security cameras and the hiring of additional school resource officers.

“Any safety issues in our schools,” she said.

The ordinance will also require a board, which Starkey said is called the Cass County School Safety Commission. It will be made up of the school safety specialists from area schools, education administrators, members of law enforcement agencies and other county officials.

“It’s important for the county to have in place,” Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor told commissioners when he and Starkey expressed a desire for the ordinance last month.

The board will convene regularly to discuss the schools’ safety plans and how they can be maintained and improved, Starkey said.

Beth Dean, principal of Pioneer Elementary School in Royal Center, is also the school’s certified school safety specialist. She said the title comes with keeping up with changes in the law regarding school safety and regulations set by the Indiana Department of Education.

“This is something we started years ago once we first started the school safety specialist program in the late 90s and now we’re getting back together,” Dean said of the Cass County School Safety Commission. “I think it’s a positive thing.”

One of the grants the schools represented in the commission would be eligible for is the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Secured School Safety Grant, which offers individual schools up to $50,000 a year.

Starkey said should the ordinance be adopted and the Logansport Community School Corporation receive funding, she would like to see it put it toward the installation of more security cameras and training for school resource officers.

She said with the commissioner’s approval, the ordinance will allow for other avenues for funding in the future as well.

“This will formalize everything and lead to other grant opportunities down the road,” she said.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or