TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - This week marks school safety week across the country. The goal is to focus on school safety measures while providing a safe learning environment.
Last month, the Indiana Secured School Safety Board approved more than $19 million in matching state funds through the secured school safety grant. That marked the largest investment in safety initiatives for Hoosier schools.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb decided to align the state's school safety week with the national one. School safety officials at Otter Creek Middle School say it's of utmost importance to schools around Vigo County to keep students and staff safe.
Principal Sarah Gore of Otter Creek Middle School says the root of school safety is ensuring that all students have a secure learning environment. She says having a school protection officer present gives her peace of mind.
School Protection Officers check every door after every class period. They are trained to recognize when something isn't right and when it's time to intervene.
One of Otter Creek's school protection officers Chris Mundy says it's important to establish rapport with students so they feel comfortable coming to them if something is wrong.
The school also frequently practices safety drills so students are familiar with it and know what to do. Both Principal Gore and SPO Chris Mundy know just how important school safety is. "As a school principal and a staff member, knowing that there is someone present and available that is trained in security and safety allows us to focus on educating our kids," Principal Gore said, "We are very thankful that our corporation has taken steps to ensure that there is a school protection officer in every building."
Both Gore and Mundy mentioned the investment that Vigo County School Corporation has made in getting SPO's with extensive law enforcement experience. Mundy, for instance, was with the City Police Department for 28 years. They say that not every school does this, and the value is in the people.