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Grant Will Fund School Safety Improvements

$370,000 grant will support emergency planning, safety assessments, visitor access management

Eugene School District 4J has been awarded a significant federal grant to support school safety. The grant will provide $370,289 over two years to improve safety and emergency preparedness throughout the district.

The grant will primarily fund three districtwide safety initiatives:

  • Comprehensive school vulnerability assessments at every building
  • Updated emergency operations plan, individualized for each school
  • Improved visitor management systems to better control access to schools

Eugene School District 4J was the only entity in Oregon to be awarded the School Violence Prevention Program grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The first districtwide safety improvement project—comprehensive school vulnerability assessments—will include gathering data at 38 different sites to gain an understanding of each school’s and building’s safety and security improvement needs. Once established, each need will be prioritized based on best practices. Examples could include things like entrance security, windows, internal door locking, adequate signage, and drop-off and pick-up procedures.

“We’re looking for proactive solutions to help improve safety and security in a world where we don’t have a lot of extra funding,” said Kari Skinner, 4J’s Director of Public Safety. “This will help identify a list of priorities at each school, with the expectation that we will be able to make some improvements readily and can tackle more costly improvements one by one as funds are available.”

The second project the district aims to accomplish with the grant funding is establishing an updated emergency operations plan. The updated plan will detail incident response procedures and what steps to take when various emergencies occur. It will be crafted in collaboration with community partners such as police agencies and city and county emergency management.

Some examples of information to be included in the incident response plans are what to do in a lockdown procedure, how to use the phone system to alert others of a potential intruder, who to call if a student doesn’t arrive home safely, and where student and parent reunification will take place following an emergency.

Every school and district building will have a copy of the updated plan, with key information presented in a simple, color-coded flip chart so that it’s easy to navigate quickly. The district already has emergency response information compiled in this way, but it needs to be updated and individualized for each school.

The third major improvement to be funded by the federal safety grant is a more efficient and effective visitor management system at all 38 school and district buildings.

The system will use government-issued identification to verify that volunteers and visitors throughout the district are who they say they are. The program will also screen for sex offenders, alert staff to potential custody violations, and provide districtwide tracking of volunteer time.

Information collected by the district will not be shared with immigration officials, law enforcement or others outside of the school district. “Our goal is not to raise barriers but to streamline school check-in procedures, while protecting our students and our staff from potential safety risks,” said Public Safety Director Kari Skinner.

“We cannot stop until every last student goes to school knowing it is a safe place to learn and grow. It saddens me to know this is not the current reality for many young people,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, about the federal grant program. “I’m encouraged by the work of the Eugene School District and other educators who are working diligently to change this narrative and reality.”

4J Public Safety Office 
4J Finance Information 

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