Union County schools apply for $500,000 grant, gets visit from M - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Union County schools apply for $500,000 grant, gets visit from Mike Bost

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UNION COUNTY, Ill. -- Congressman Mike Bost visited the Anna Junior High Friday afternoon talking to several superintendents in Union County about the 2018 School Prevention Violence Program. 

The program is part of the "Securing our Schools Act", sponsored by Bost, and is meant to keep students and faculty safe, especially during an active shooter situation. The school shooting in Parkland, Florida sped up the act's passage. 

"In a very short period of time, all of those bills that were on the back burner were moved quickly to the front to form one large safety act," Bost explains. 

The program, through the department of justice, provides funds for several different security measures. This includes panic buttons, camera, extra security locks on doors. 

Applicants pair with local enforcement to apply, which  is exactly what Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel did. "As soon as he found out, he [Sheriff Harvel] got a hold of each superintendent and asked what districts would be interested in being a part, and of course, everybody agreed," says Chuck Goforth, Superintendent for Anna District 37. 

The county applied for a $500,000 grant that will be spread throughout the seven school districts. Superintendents says this grant is unique because it allows districts to tailor the funds to fit their needs. 

Dr. Keith Reinhardt, Superintendent for Jonesboro Elementary School District, says he would like to use the funds to upgrade the district's communication system. "A notification if we have an intruder in the building, would absolutely help," he says. 

Meanwhile, rural school districts like Shawnee have their own challenges. Superintendent Sherry Clover-Hill says they need better cellphone service, "I set 14 miles away from Anna in a cornfield, so my need would be a cell phone tower booster so we can get a better signal in case of an emergency." 

Only 60 grants will be awarded throughout the country. Union County expects to know if they were chosen sometime in September.

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