District 51 seeks school safety funds

School District 51 is applying for $380,324 in grant funding to add panic buttons and keyless lock systems at some of its schools.

If District 51 is among the selected applicants for grant money from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District, the district plans to purchase and install panic buttons at 39 schools and purchase and install keyless locks at four high schools, five middle schools and Fruita 8/9 School. The work would be spread out between this summer and the summer of 2014.

The panic buttons, already present at six local schools, would allow secretaries to press a button under a desk to alert law enforcement that the school is experiencing an emergency situation.

The keyless lock systems would allow staff to lock every door in the building by swiping a card against a sensor. District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said the systems save time and limit risk during a crisis like a school shooting.

“Right now staff members have to go outside, lock the door, come in and shut it. It creates a risk for them and takes time. Most of these situations are done in under 5 minutes,” she said.

A Community Oriented Policing Services grant paid for installation of the same keyless lock systems at Mt. Garfield Middle School, Grand Mesa Middle School, Redlands Middle School, Central High School and Rocky Mountain Elementary School.

“We have been moving in this direction over time, but it seems more pressing now,” DeVita said.

DeVita said the district plans to install the security elements with or without the grant, but getting approved for a grant would speed the installation process.

The school district is eligible for grant dollars from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District because it is a nearby government entity. The lease district awards grants each spring and fall to various political subdivisions and institutions using federal mineral lease revenues gathered from taxes on oil, gas and mineral production on Garfield County’s federal lands.

The district awarded $1.6 million in grants last spring and $1.78 million in the fall of 2012. The lease district did not provide a requested total for this spring’s awards on Tuesday.

Applications for the grant program are due by 5 p.m. Thursday. Awards are scheduled to be announced April 17.

The grant requires applicants to supply at least 30 percent of a project’s total cost. The keyless lock and panic button project has an estimated price tag of $543,000. The money that doesn’t come from the grant would come from the school district’s 2013-14 and 2014-15 capital expense budgets, which have yet to be written.


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