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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Establishing Funding For School Safety Projects

Spencer Tritt

In response to mass shootings, schools across the country are spending millions on school safety projects.

School districts across Illinois will be able to submit grant requests through the Illinois State Board of Education. The law takes effect in January.

These grants can cover costs for an array of safety-related projects including high-tech upgrades like metal detectors, professional development or school-based health centers.

Republican State Representative Jeff Keicher of Sycamore supported the bipartisan measure.

“You know, there's so many different solutions,” he said. “There's no one size fits all. You have different communities that have different needs; you have different buildings that are different ages.”

Keicher said schools should be able to develop safety solutions that work for their district, instead of conforming to state mandates.

“So it's also a hope that through this granting mechanism, if we come up with a great innovative idea, maybe we can pull back some of the some of the requirements that don't make sense,” he said.

The new granting mechanism is also supposed to prioritize under-resourced Tier 1 and 2school districts.

Keicher said lawmakers wanted to get the office established as soon as possible, but he’s not sure how much grant money will be immediately available.

The Illinois Association of School Boards recentlypassed a resolution to advocate for legislation providing similar grants for schools to pay for School Resource Officers.