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Hamilton County schools receive nearly $4 million to upgrade security systems

On these custom-made doors, the windows are placed away from the handle so that an intruder could not break the glass to open the door.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
On these custom-made doors, the windows are placed away from the handle so that an intruder could not break the glass to open the door.

On Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine announced the latest batch of schools receiving state funding for safety and security upgrades. Over 945 schools across the state will split a combined $68 million in grants as part of Ohio's School Safety Support program.

Sixty schools in 21 districts in Hamilton County will receive $3,892,025 in grant funds. The majority of that money will go to larger districts like Cincinnati Public Schools, which will get over $900,000, and Princeton City Schools, which will receive more than $563,000.

The intention of the grants is for schools to improve their safety measures by updating technology like security cameras, automatic door locks, key card entry systems and exterior lighting.

For smaller districts, additional funds are much needed. Three Rivers Local Schools in Cleves has around 2,000 students, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. It was awarded $53,195 in total funds, but School Security Officer Steve Makin says he was expecting more and was surprised by how much his district received compared to others.

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"There are some school districts who are a little bit better off than we are that got bigger chunks of the money than we did," Makin said. "I haven't been able to get an answer on what the criteria was for who got what and how they divided all that up."

The security team at Three Rivers says it will use the money to upgrade its outdoor cameras and the school's door-locking system, but Makin is looking for more down the line.

"We are actually in the process of asking for some more grant money," Makin said. "We have some things we'd like to improve that weren't covered by the first grant."

Ideally, Makin would like to add more security personnel to keep an eye on things and ease the anxiety of students who may feel like their safety is at risk when they hear about shootings and violence in schools across the country.

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"Kids are watching the news just like everybody else is and they see all the crazy stuff that's going on around the country and the world, and I'm sure that concerns them a lot when they think about, 'Could that ever happen at my school?' and we try to do everything we can to make them feel as safe and as comfortable as possible here," Makin said.

DeWine says this most recent disbursement of funds is the fourth round of grants given to schools to improve safety. A fifth round of funding will be announced in the coming weeks.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.