Regional School Unit 38 is strengthening its school security, the result of a $40,500 grant it recently received from the Department of Justice.

“Student safety will always be something we can look to improve upon,” said Jay Charette, superintendent of RSU 38, also known as the Maranacook school district. “We do our best to be ready, and sadly we learn lessons from those that have experienced school shootings in recent years.”

The grant money is part of $85.3 million awarded nationally by the Department of Justice under the School Violence Prevention Program of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. 

The grant was designed to provide safety measures at the front of RSU 38 buildings, Charette said. Electronic lock upgrades will be made at all of the district schools, according to Charette, improving the schools’ abilities to control building access.

“The lock system will help us secure and funnel traffic through specific entry points to allow us to monitor who is in our buildings during what times,” he said.

In addition, Charette said, Manchester Elementary School will also have bulletproof glass installed, replacing regular glass. 

“Our district is in the process of exploring response approaches, such as ALICE, to put into place a coordinated response to crisis events,” he said. “The glass and locks will be pieces of the larger school safety protocols put into place to keep students and staff safe while in our various district schools.”

ALICEan acronym for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate” — is an active shooter training program that is said to provide a more-dynamic environment that gives victims more techniques to stay safe. 

Maine schools received $1.25 million of that funding. School Administrative District 15, which includes Gray and New Gloucester, received $494,850; RSU 52, which includes Greene, Leeds and Turner, received $324,108; Sanford School Department received $216,221; and SAD 30, which includes Lee, Springfield, Webster and Winn, received $181,767.

“These grants to Maine Schools will assist local districts in preventing violence in schools and enhancing the safety of Maine schoolchildren,” said U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank in a press release.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, within the Department of Justice, and the COPS Office manage the programs and administer the grands. 

Along with implementing or improving school safety measures, uses for the grant money can be used to train law enforcement to help deter student violence, improve notification to first responders and to train school officials to intervene. 

Maranacook will also spend $12,000 in order to match the grant, a stipulation to the district when it applied. In total, $52,500 will be spent on the improvements. The district applied for this grant amount because it reflected the estimated cost of the work. 

A threat against students at Maranacook High School was recently made in an electronic chat room. The threat was deemed “vague” by both administrators and law enforcement officials. Though the school did not close, attendance was low.

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