Kenosha Unified School District cashes in on $900,000 safety grant

Posted at 6:17 AM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 09:07:08-04

KENOSHA -- From bullet-resistant film to technology that can detect the sound of gunfire -- Kenosha Unified leaders are cashing in on a $900,000 safety grant.

The money will be used for technology, they hope they will never need to use.

Patrick Finnemore, facilities director at Kenosha Unified School District tells us if you go anywhere at Indian Trail High School, it's a safe bet you are being recorded by one of their 215 cameras.

Finnemore showed us how school leaders can go on any intercom and relay real-time information.

Their live cameras can be pulled up in an officer's patrol vehicle and on a school resource officer's cell phone.

A $900,000 grant awarded to them will help take their safety to a new level, including sensing the sound of a gunshot.

"That detector will automatically notify law enforcement that a gun was fired and it will tell which school and where the gun was fired," explained Finnemore.

Nearly $300,000 will be spent on that alone. Gunshot detectors will be installed in heavily populated areas, such as a cafeteria.

Finnemore says their middle and high schools will have about $700,000 in surveillance upgrades. The state-of-the-art cameras capture your entire body explaining, "If you were trying to hide something on your back, we'll see it."

About $80,000 will be spent on the bullet-resistant film, for their windows.

"It's an unfortunate reality that we have to be prepared for as best we can," said Finnemore.

TODAY'S TMJ4 reached out to other school districts, to see if they plan to boost their school security before next school year, in light of the school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida.

Here are the responses we received:

Mequon-Thiensville School District:

A few months ago, on March 26, we hosted a community conversation on safety and security in our schools. The goal of the meeting was to gather input from parents, employees, students and community members to inform our plans moving forward. You can read more here. []

Following that conversation, our board of education approved initiatives to be implemented in our 2017-18 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2018. Those initiatives included such actions as enhancing video surveillance, purchasing classroom emergency kits and fortifying windows and doors. We also created a link on our website to a safety reporting form that anyone can use to report concerns.

Our work continues in our next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018. Our board recently approved a new strategic plan which includes an objective to implement instruction and formalized support in safety. Our plan initiatives include integrating ongoing positive climate and school safety efforts with crisis prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Our support programming additionally encompasses wellness promotion and interventions. 

In short, we were able to apply some immediate enhancements and we continue to keep our attention focused on school safety and security, approaching the topic from all points of view including prevention, preparedness and response.

Jennifer Flierl
Executive Director of Communications
Mequon-Thiensville School District


Racine Unified School District:

We already had a great deal of work/efforts in place (ALICE Training, Trauma Informed training, working to create secure entrances at all schools, etc.). Right now we are finalizing our grant request for the state. That will include more of this. If we receive grant dollars, it will help us ramp up much of what we're already doing. 

Stacy Tapp, APR
Chief of Communication and Community Engagement
Racine Unified School District

Sheboygan Area School District:

The Sheboygan Area School District, in partnership with local law enforcement, utilizes the ALICE model and we routinely practice safety drills. Our crisis manuals are reviewed annually and we have not made any changes specifically related to the Parkland Shooting.
Thank you,
Nicole Sondalle
Communications Specialist
Sheboygan Area School District

Milwaukee Public Schools:

MPS takes the safety of our students, staff and visitors very seriously and uses a variety of methods to keep our schools safe. As you know, our interim superintendent Dr. Keith Posley added 20 additional safety aides to support our elementary schools.
The full scope of the measures we take to keep our schools safe is extensive. Given recent situations, we do not publicly discuss in detail our security measures as doing so would share information designed to thwart any situations that could occur.
Denise Callaway
Director of Communications & Outreach
Milwaukee Public Schools