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D-158 tops area schools in state security grants

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:05 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:20 p.m. CST

HUNTLEY – District 158 earned the most funding in McHenry County from the $25 million in safety grants the state recently awarded to 448 schools to improve security and tighten building access.

Officials from the Huntley school district said they will use the $231,025 they received to install shatter-resistant glass at the main entrances of all the district's schools, enhance building locks and place security cameras outside of schools.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency awarded a combined $1.1 million in grants to 14 McHenry County districts. The $25 million awarded to schools, community colleges and universities across the state are intended to address similar safety deficiencies discovered at Sandy Hook Elementary in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at the Newtown, Conn., school.

"There's always opportunities for enhanced security," Chief Financial Officer Mark Altmayer said. "This grant program certainly allows us to do some additional security work that will benefit the district and the community."

Crystal Lake District 47 and District 155 received the most grants next to Huntley, earning $200,725 and $171,250 for various security improvements.

The state agency, meanwhile, rejected Carpentersville-based District 300's grant application that would have allowed officials to make $509,000 in improvements and add shatter-resistant glass at its 27 schools.

Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin said the state first looked at projects that would improve doors and locks at schools before considering projects that would strictly strengthen windows.

The emergency management agency ultimately received 623 applications, totaling $54 million, for the safety grants. More than two dozen individuals reviewed applications and selected 1,132 projects for the $25 million grants.

"Based upon the criteria used to award the grant, we are disappointed but not surprised," Harkin said.

District 300 officials don't have any immediate plans to use their own money to pay for the security projects.

But board members slightly increased student fees earlier this year to pay for other security upgrades on the district's radar. Officials also used $100,000 from their budget last year to enhance doors and locks at certain schools.

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