#schoolsafety | Audit shows school safety grants helped Wisconsin schools make security upgrades, adequate safety plans

After a shooting near four schools forced part of Madison Metropolitan School District into a lock out on Wednesday, the district is grateful for the upgrades they’ve made.

New hardware on all the doors, automatic locks and phone and PA systems school workers can use to communicate in case of emergency are all changes the district made with help from a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“All of these components are a big part of our comprehensive school safety and security program,” said Tim LeMonds, a spokesperson for MMSD. “Whether it be capital improvements, training, education, all of it comes together to respond like we did today.”

In total, Madison schools received about $2.4 million in school safety grants of the $100 million the state handed out.

According to surveys of participating schools, other districts were able to make similar improvements, and almost half of schools that responded to the survey added surveillance and screening improvements with the money they got.

On Wednesday lawmakers went over an audit of the program based off the surveys to evaluate how the DOJ did in overseeing the program and helping schools refine their safety plans.

The surveys showed most schools had best practices for safety plans, including posted evacuations routes, developed warning systems and trained employees, meaning the DOJ did well.

Attorney General Josh Kaul said more needs to be done on school safety in the form of mental health funding.

“We need to keep doing more work in this area,” he said. “We need to make sure that our schools in Wisconsin are as safe as they can be, and that includes making sure we have effective physical security, but we also have to make sure that we’re investing in things like long term funding for mental health programs and social workers in our schools.”

Madison Metropolitan School District has made and will continue to make other security upgrades. LeMonds said a big part of that will come from a potential referendum that the board will vote on near the end of the school year.

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