Politics

Greenwood mayor wants to transfer $1 million to schools for safety needs

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — Three school superintendents on Wednesday said they’re elated to receive extra funding for security.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers has asked the common council to set aside $1 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan funding to reimburse local school corporations for building upgrades. The money will be split evenly among the three school corporations that serve Greenwood: Center Grove, Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant schools. Myers told News 8 he specifically wants school officials to use the money for capital improvements such as cameras and locks rather than paying salaries for extra staff.

“We don’t want this money to just go away,” he said. “If we pay to put in better door locks, if we pay to put in better alarm systems, those are long-term, lasting effects, and those are what we want to see happen to make sure these kids are protected every day.”

Myers said the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas earlier this year drove the decision to set the money aside. He said city staff worked on the idea throughout the summer. He notified the superintendents of the finalized plan earlier this week.

Center Grove Schools Superintendent Rich Arkanoff said he was “flabbergasted” when he learned the corporation would get $333,000.

“When he first texted me and said ‘I have some money for the school district,’ I had no idea or thought that it would be that high,” he said.

Center Grove already has electronic door locks and security cameras in every building, along with a strobe system that flashes different colors for different emergencies. Arkanoff said he wants to install additional cameras, including stop arm cameras on school buses, and buy more emergency distress signals for staff. Other uses could include new cars for the school police department or equipment for their officers. Greenwood superintendent Dr. Terry Terhune said his corporation is investigating ways to allow law enforcement to tap into their security camera live feed in an emergency. Both Terhune and Arkanoff said Myers’ move frees up funding in their budgets and moves up the timetables for their projects by a year or more.

“We definitely could use a million dollars for quite a few different things but at the same time, public safety has always been number one for me,” Myers said. “Taking care of the schools and helping them with the safety side of it is just as important.”

The Greenwood Common Council still has to approve the move. In a sign of its support, Myers said the council voted to discuss and vote on the motion over the course of two meetings rather than the usual three. A final vote is scheduled for Oct. 17.