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Creston Schools receive $500K grant for student safety

Creston High School teacher Jerry Hartman and fellow school staff reinforce a door by tying a table to it with belts during a barricade scenario at ALICE training in February 2014 at Creston High School.
Creston High School teacher Jerry Hartman and fellow school staff reinforce a door by tying a table to it with belts during a barricade scenario at ALICE training in February 2014 at Creston High School.

Creston Community Schools has been awarded $500,000 through the STOP School Violence Act to upgrade safety and security measures at all Creston schools.

“This grant will allow us to build upon our thoroughly researched and collaboratively developed school emergency and all-hazard plan,” said Creston Community Schools Superintendent Steve McDermott. “These funds will allow us to significantly upgrade our safety and security systems, and to provide safe and secure learning environments for students and all other stakeholders in our schools.”

Upgrades to the schools will include a shooter detection system, key FOB access control, wired and wireless panic button systems, a paging system, metal detector, two-way radios and improved exterior lighting.

Some of the updates, such as improved exterior lighting, can be completed before the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“I would say the majority of these things, we’re targeting to have those things in place by the start of school next fall, and no later than the end of next school year. We really want to keep moving on these things now that we have funding, so it’s just a matter of getting things processed,” said McDermott.

The STOP School Violence, or Student, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018, reauthorizes and amends the 2001-2009 Secure Our Schools Act, according to a press release from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the bill.

“Basically, it’s just a school safety and security grant,” said McDermott. “Over the years, there’s been COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grants across the country and this would fall under that umbrella.”

The grant will cover 75 percent of the costs associated with completing the upgrades. The district has already budgeted an additional $235,000 funded through an additional penny sales tax.

The grant does not include funding for a school resource officer. However, Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer, said he is in the process of negotiating with the city and schools to have one placed by the next fiscal year and he hopes the post will carry through at least the next five years.

“We’re enthused about that,” said McDermott. “It’s not a new concept, but it’s one I think we could sure make great use of here.”

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