State Grants to Strengthen Safety in 6 Blue Water Area School Districts

Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced that six schools in the Blue Water area have received a state grant to improve school safety.

East Shore Leadership Academy, Capac Community Schools, Yale Public Schools, Port Huron Area School District, Memphis Community Schools, and Brown City Community Schools received a total of nearly $615,000 the Competitive School Safety Grant Program, administered by the Michigan State Police.

Schools have until July 2021 to spend the grant money.

Memphis Superintendent Sara Dobbelear said the district will use its $100,000 grant to replace existing middle/high school exterior entrance doors with more secure ones; add a camera, intercom and bell system at the main entrance of each school to better screen visitors to the building; add additional locking mechanisms to each interior classroom and district office door; and improving the public announcement system to allow traditional noisy rooms to be notified of an emergency.

Memphis High School in Memphis on Thursday, May 5, 2022. Memphis Superintendent Sara Dobbelear said the district will use its $100,000 grant to replace existing exterior entry doors with one that is safer in the middle/high school .  The district will also add intercom and bell systems to each main entrance, add cameras and an additional locking mechanism to each interior classroom and office door.

Especially in the current school climate, Dobbeear said it’s important the district is committed to keeping its students and staff safe, and school safety is a big issue for parents around the world. .

“It’s so important to let your kids down for eight hours a day and know that the school you’re sending them to thinks their safety is the most important thing,” Dobbelear said.

Shawn Shackelford, executive director of student services and diversity for Port Huron Schools, said the $250,000 grant will be used to install additional locking mechanisms on all classroom doors.

The Memphis High School lobby in Memphis on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant. The safety of our schools is a top priority and this grant will allow the district to add an extra layer of protection in our buildings,” Shackelford said.

East Shore Leadership Academy Superintendent Nancy Gardner said the district will use its $41,738 grant to add a double entry door in the main entrance, replace interior doorknobs in classrooms, installing additional defensive locking mechanisms and purchasing two-way radios for all personnel to communicate.

Capac Community Schools will use its $100,000 grant to update its outdated public announcement system so communications can be sent district-wide, Superintendent Jeff Terpenning said.

The Memphis High School Music Room in Memphis on Thursday, May 5, 2022. Memphis Schools Superintendent Sara Dobbelear said that in noisy rooms such as the music room, the school will install strobe lights to act as sirens for any alert.

Whether it’s for an emergency or sending out school announcements, Terpenning said the district feels it’s important that communications go out to everyone at the same time.

Yale Public Schools received $102,298 from the grant. Superintendent Kurt Sutton said the grant will be used to purchase new portable radios and a radio system, additional door locking mechanisms, keyless entry for staff and numbered signage for building doors so staff emergency can more easily locate different areas of the building.

Brown City Community Schools received $20,348. Requests for comment to Brown City Superintendent Neil Kohler were not returned Thursday.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or lfitzgeral@gannett.com.

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