Cape district accepts federal grant for school safety

Students and staff at Cape Girardeau public schools will benefit from a three-year federal grant that will enhance health and safety training throughout the school district.

The $72,322 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice was accepted by the Cape Girardeau Board of Education at its October meeting Monday night.

“This is the first time we’ve ever applied for or received this grant,” district assistant superintendent Josh Crowell said before the meeting. Crowell, along with district grant coordinator Raeanne Kloss, applied for the grant award earlier this year.

“We applied for this over the summer and received notification of the grant award a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

Officially called the “STOP School Violence” grant through the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the award requires the district to fund 20%, or $15,784, of the grant total over the next three years with the remaining 80% funded by the DOJ.

“One of the things that really stuck out to us about this grant is how versatile it is,” Crowell said. “It’s not restricted to just one particular discipline that our district personnel or partnering agencies can receive training on. It really is far-reaching.”

According to the assistant superintendent, the grant will enable the district to certify all of its 750 employees in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

“That will allow us to certify all staff in our district for the next four years,” Crowell said. “The majority of our staff is already trained, but this is going to allow us to go much deeper to having 100% of our staff trained.”

Another benefit of the grant is it will help pay for staff resource officer conferences and other staff development programs such as trauma-informed school training.

“It will also let us dig deeper into what we call ‘threat-assessment training,’ so if there is a threat made at the schools or with a student or staff or the community, whatever that threat would be, this will give us more in-depth training on how to go about assessing that threat with outside partners, such as the Community Counseling Center and area law enforcement agencies,” Crowell said. “In addition, it will allow us to partner with law enforcement agencies to help pay overtime for active-intruder and active-shooter-scenario training.”

The grant’s impact will be felt almost immediately as the district begins to schedule staff training made possible by the additional funding.

“When you talk about school safety, it’s not always just about having locked doors or having the right policies. There are so many different things that go into school safety,” Crowell said. “At the end of the day, our students will benefit from this.”

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