2 school districts awarded safety grant money

Menominee, Witt-Birn get more than $50K each

Evan J. Pretzer news@wolfrivermedia.com

Contributed Photo Menominee Indian High School Principal Jim Reif, left, and Menominee Indian School District Superintendent Wendell Waukau pose with their grant paperwork filed for Wisconsin’s $100 million school safety fund created earlier this year. MISD was one of two districts in the Shawano area to receive more than $50,000 in grant money from the state.

In the aftermath of the February shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left multiple students dead and led to a wave of political action around the nation, Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a $100 million plan for school safety in Wisconsin.

Today, two local school districts in the Shawano area have received funds for their students.

According to a press release from Attorney General Brad D. Schimel, Menominee Indian School District and Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District have received $55,817 and $64,275, respectively, for building improvements like door locks and more mental health training for staff.

According to MISD Superintendent Wendell Waukau, much of what was awarded to his district was for physical, and not mental, assistance, as his district already has programs in this area.

“We’ll be doing more physical security upgrades,” he said. “We’ve already got mental health programs and were doing them five years ago. We do a lot with social and empathetic learning, when our kids are struggling. We like to get to the root causes and not just find a quick fix.”

Though the state fund distributes money to schools for upgrades not elaborated on by district in the initial press release put out on July 10, Waukau was willing to share what he planned to install in buildings in Keshena and Neopit. Currently, shatter-resistant film and new communications equipment are top priorities, though the awarded money will not cover the entirety of costs.

“We’re going to bring in some protective film and portable radios, as well,” Waukau said. “To fund it fully, we’re going to have to kick in some dollars from the district. I can’t give an exact number at this time, but it’ll probably be around another $25,000 to $50,000, and we won’t cut to do it.”

Officials with Wittenberg-Birnamwood could not be reached for comment by press time.