Fed grant helps schools improve emergency preparedness

Rockford School District has been awarded $460,425 in federal funding to strengthen and update plans for responding to the growing variety and complexity of emergency situations today’s classrooms face.

Of $23 million in grants being disbursed nationwide by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Rockford is one of six Illinois school districts to qualify.

Steve Pirages, a retired Rockford police lieutenant, was hired in November to oversee the development of a crisis management plan to cover 54 buildings and address emergencies including natural disasters, terrorist attacks or a pandemic flu outbreak. Pirages is enlisting the help of Rockford’s three hospitals and agencies such as the Winnebago County Health Department and local ESDAs in formulating the plan.

Grant funds will be used to train personnel and pay for security improvements including cameras and keyless door locks, among other preparedness initiatives.

From the Jan. 17-23, 2007, issue

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