PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) — Paris Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Larson said the school district received two grants from the Department of Justice for school safety and violence prevention programs.

The grants total $587,027 and are in addition to the $278,801.15 the school district received from the DoJ last year for school safety. Larson said these grants will fund additional safety measures and training for the schools, including staff training in mental health, the installation of additional security systems, updates to locks, and the hiring of additional mental health personnel.

“Ensuring the safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” said Larson. “These grants will allow us to implement important programs and initiatives that will make a tangible difference in the safety of our schools. We are grateful to the Department of Justice for their support and investment in the safety of our school community.”

Last summer, Larson said all of the school district staff were trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid, a program that teaches individuals how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health challenges. Larson said the mental health staff has tripled in size over the past year, and they now offer 24/7 counseling services for students regarding safety concerns.

“We believe that safety and mental health go hand in hand,” said Faith Milam, District Prevention Counselor. “By addressing both of these areas, we can create a more positive and supportive learning environment for our students. We are committed to continuously improving the safety and mental health resources that we offer to our school community.”

Additionally, Larson said the staff has been trained on how to conduct threat assessments, increasing partnerships with local first responders. They have also conducted safety audits led by certified national school safety experts, and all staff members have completed ALICE training, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.