Security grants help schools

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Charlotte County Public Schools recently received $99,999 in funding, according to a press release from Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The funds are part of a Security Equipment Grant given to schools across the commonwealth.

In Charlotte County, both Central Middle School and Randolph-Henry High School were chosen as recipients.

The grants, totaling $6 million across the state, “will pay for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies and other security upgrades in 434 schools and instructional facilities,” according to the release.

Superintendent Nancy Leonard said she is pleased that the county was awarded the maximum amount possible through the grant.

The money, Leonard said, will help to purchase and update surveillance cameras to go both indoors and outdoors. It will also add staff keyless entries to the middle and high school, which will record a digital reading of each person who accesses the building along with a time and date stamp.

The remaining funds will be used to equip several buildings, such as the gym and cafeteria at Central, with door buzzers, cameras and access capabilities.

“This will be a huge step forward in securing our secondary buildings,” she said.

In July, school divisions and regional educational programs were invited to apply. They were informed of the results in late September.

Leonard said, “The security equipment grant application was a team effort by our high school and middle school administration, the technology department, our student services director and our school resource officers.”

Ninety-six school divisions and five regional education programs benefited from the funding.

According to the release, the General Assembly established the School Security Equipment Grants program in 2013, due in part to the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting that took place in 2012.

The grant criteria prioritize schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.

McAuliffe said in the release, “School safety is a fundamental element of offering every Virginia student a world class education in an environment where they can learn, grow and thrive.”

He said these grants are important because they give administrators needed resources which keep both students and educators safe. This places the focus back on “preparing for success in the new Virginia economy.”

Leonard said, “It has been an ongoing process and point of focus to increase the security features in our schools, since there is absolutely nothing more important than the safety of our children.”