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School safety dominates at state, local debates

by the ASSOCIATED PRESS and WPD STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is getting $1 million from the federal government to help prevent school violence.

The Justice Department grant to the Indiana State Department of Health is aimed at training school officials and educating students to prevent student violence and developing an anonymous reporting system for school threats that might include cellphone apps and hotlines.

The grant also is aimed at developing school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams and training for school officials to respond to individuals with mental health issues.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box says the funding will allow Indiana to address gaps in school safety and increase prevention.

School safety conversations are underway locally as well.

At Manchester Community Schools, for example, the public will decide whether the school corporation follows through on plans to construct a $9 million fieldhouse that would connect the administration offices to the high school. The school corporation is asking for permission to obtain a $16 million bond to build the fieldhouse and finish a variety of other building projects, like an advanced manufacturing lab and relocation of central offices at the elementary and intermediate school buildings, another safety concern.

The MCS board is also debating its policy for handheld metal detector use. At issue for the board is whether the policy should permit random searches or require school employees to have cause prior to using the handheld devices.

The devices were also distributed to MSD of Wabash County and Wabash City Schools.

And county officials are in talks with MSD administrators who would like to hire school resource officers for the school corporation. School resource officers are already in use by Wabash City Schools and Manchester Community Schools.