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Wauwatosa School District submits application for grants to increase school safety



Wauwatosa School District hopes to receive $367,000 in grant money to put toward enhancing safety across the District’s 15 schools.


The District officially submitted its application on Wednesday, June 6th for the one-time money available through the newly created Office of School Safety within the state Department of Justice.


The grants are part of a $100 million Governor Walker has allocated to school safety via Act 143.


“Safety and security of our students and staff is always our top priority and this money will allow us to make some small enhancements in these areas but there is always more to be done,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl.


There are limitations as to how the money can be used. The grants are divided between what the state has defined as “primary” and “advanced” security categories.


Primary grants will total $35 million and will help schools pay for baseline security measures like door locks and shatter-proof glass.


Money awarded through the advanced security grants will total $65 million statewide but is limited to $20,000 per building.


Wauwatosa School District already has most baseline measures in place, including locks on all classroom doors. The grant money requested would be used to purchase and install additional shatter-proof glass in schools as well as purchase two-way radios for all buildings to improve communication capabilities in the event of an emergency.


Additional funds were requested for training materials and mapping technology that would assist schools and law enforcement when responding to an emergency. 


Schools are not able to use the grant money toward salaries for school resource officers.


The District has worked strategically to put in place as many safety measures as financially possible, both in training and building improvements. Significant building improvements would be needed to take safety to the next level, which would include additional controlled access for visitors once inside the building.


Wauwatosa Public Schools already have controlled external access at all schools, meaning visitors need to request entry access during the school day. Schools are always locked. Additionally, Wauwatosa Public Schools utilize a visitor management protocol.


The District has created the position of Safety and Security Coordinator, which will be responsible for organizing and coordinating the District Safety and Security Committee, monitoring and updating the District’s safety plan, and working with each school update building safety plans.


Wauwatosa School District also has the following existing school safety measures in place:

  • Four School Resource Officers - one at each of the secondary schools – who also assist at the elementary schools.
  • Training for staff to assess a student’s mental health and identify a potential emotional crisis so that staff can connect students to the appropriate resources. The training is funded through the Youth Mental Health First Aid grant and the District has participated for a couple of years now.
  • The new state law will require all school Districts to provide an additional three hours of training to all staff about adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed care, as a prerequisite to obtaining the school safety grants.

Additionally, the Wauwatosa School Board sent a resolution to state lawmakers earlier this spring asking them to return for a special session to address areas of law that would provide additional protection to our students and staff including allocating sufficient funds to help school districts provide enhanced anti-bullying programs and enhanced mental-health services.