Lakota and Fairfield schools receive the bulk of state funds to enhance security

August 5 – Some district school districts are getting funds to beef up security as the start of the new school year approaches.

Earlier this week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that more than 1,000 individual K-12 school buildings and their districts will share portions of the $47 million in grants to strengthen school security.

Two school districts in Butler County — Lakota and Fairfield — are among the top 5 school systems in the state to receive the most money, according to a report from Journal-News media partner WCPO-TV.

The Lakota will receive $950,000, while the Fairfield Schools will receive $350,000.

“The goal is that no matter where the child goes to school, these basic safety needs are met within that school the child goes to,” DeWine said.

Betsy Fuller, a spokeswoman for Lakota Schools of 17,000 students, said the most populous area in Butler County and the ninth largest in Ohio, appreciates the security-enhancement money.

“We are very grateful to have been awarded the Governor Dewine K-12 School Safety Scholarship,” Fuller said. “As part of our regular assessments of our buildings, we work in partnership with our school resource officers to identify areas that can be improved or modernized to provide more safety for our students and staff. These funds will be used to help fund this work.”

“While we will not be announcing details as they are part of our safety plan, in general, we are looking to improve security cameras and other areas of our facilities.”

Fairfield School officials were not available for comment on their plans for $350,000 in security funding for the district of 10,000 people.

Improving school building security has long been a priority for all school systems, but efforts to upgrade protection have jumped sharply in the wake of the deadly May school shooting attack in Texas that killed 19 students and teachers.

District counties, including Middletown this week and Talawanda next week, are conducting active shooting exercises before classes begin.

WCPO-TV reports that more schools and school districts can apply for future grants and according to officials in DeWine’s office, there is still $53 million available for eligible applicant districts.

In an online community chat for Lakota School Principal Matt Miller this week, he said the new government funds will be used to upgrade security cameras and “strengthen entrances” on some of the district’s 24 school buildings that need such security upgrades.

Lakota has police officers in schools on each of its campuses, and Miller said the district will add more for the 2022-2023 school year, which begins classes later this month.

“We are also working on increasing SROs (Police School Resource Officers) in high schools just because we have the most students there and I think that makes sense,” Miller said.

Two Lakota High Schools – East Lakota in Liberty Twp. and Lakota West in West Chester Top. Among the largest students enrolled in any high school in Ohio.

Journal-News Media Partner WCPO-TV contributed to this story.

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