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Courtesy Mike Shirkey

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey is encour­aging schools in Hillsdale, Jackson, and Branch counties to apply for the Com­pet­itive School Safety Grant Program.

According to a statement from policy ana­lysts pro­vided by Shirkey’s office, the CSSGP is a program within the Michigan State Police that has been around since 2015. The program has awarded funds in the fiscal years of 2015, 2017, 2018 and will again in 2019.

Super­in­tendent of Jonesville Com­munity Schools Chellie Broe­samle said Jonesville Com­munity Schools received funds from the grant in 2018 and has also applied for the grant again this year.

With the funds Jonesville Com­munity Schools received last year, Broe­samle said all of the schools within the dis­trict are imple­menting the “The Boot: Door Bar­ricade and School Safety System.”

Under this system, each door has a metal plate in front of the door which can with­stand thou­sands of pounds of pressure so intruders cannot kick doors down.

“This will fortify the doors, and it’s also Blue­tooth-con­nected to the police and fire depart­ments and EMS,” Broe­samle said. “It auto­mat­i­cally con­tacts them and tells where any­thing has taken place. They can use it to determine if gun­shots were fired and what type of gun was used.”

In addition to these fea­tures, Broe­samle said the system alerts all teachers to lock down their doors.

Broesmale also said each entry-door will have bal­listic shields.

“They’re silver, and they’ll say ‘Jonesville Schools’ on them,” Broe­samle said. “They’ll also keep bullets from being able to get through and break the glass.”

Jonesville Com­munity Schools has installed film on many of its doorways.

“We can see out, but people can’t see in,” Broe­samle said.

In December 2018, the Michigan Leg­is­lature invested $25 million into the CSSGP to help improve the safety and security of school buildings through the pur­chase of tech­nology and equipment and through school building safety assess­ments.

“As recent events have increased the focus on the security of school facil­ities, the demand has sig­nif­i­cantly increased,” policy ana­lysts said. “We have funded the program on a level that has a more sig­nif­icant statewide impact.”

Policy ana­lysts said the grants are funded through one-time appro­pri­a­tions from the general fund. and grant appli­ca­tions are reviewed by a com­mittee.

“The com­mittee includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Michigan State Police, Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriffs’ Asso­ci­ation, Michigan Department of Edu­cation, Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Non-Public Schools, school security per­sonnel and the Exec­utive Office of the Gov­ernor,” policy ana­lysts said.

Both public and private schools are eli­gible to receive funds from the grant. School dis­tricts and regional edu­cation agencies can also receive grants.

The appli­cation period for the second round of school safety grants is open until March 1. Grants will be awarded no later than April 1, 2019. Schools who receive grants will have until June 1, 2020 to com­plete their projects.

“Over the years, schools who receive an award gen­erally have one year to seek reim­bursement for their eli­gible projects,” policy ana­lysts said.

In October 2018, the Michigan State Police awarded grants from the program to 188 schools, school dis­tricts, and regional edu­cation agencies throughout the state.

“Overall, we’re in a very safe com­munity,” Broe­samle said. “We’re excited about the oppor­tunity and glad the police department is helping to find ways to help keep us safe.”