School divisions receive funding for security upgrades

The Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick county school divisions have been awarded grants from the state to purchase school security equipment.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe awarded $6 million in school security equipment grants this week to protect 434 schools and instructional facilities across the commonwealth, according to a news release from the governor’s office. The grant criteria prioritizes schools in the most need of security upgrades.

Shenandoah County received a $99,999 grant for security upgrades at North Fork, Peter Muhlenberg and Signal Knob middle schools.

Barbara Stombock, director of finance for Shenandoah County Public Schools, said the equipment will help keep the students safe while on school property.

“These grants provide much needed funding for integrated security projects and upgrades in school divisions where adequate resources aren’t available,” she said. “Keeping our students and staff safe so they can focus on academic achievement and success is primary to our mission.”

She added that the funding requires a 25 percent local match that the division will be providing. Security cameras will be installed at the middle schools with this funding.

She said that last year the three county high schools upgraded security monitoring systems with $100,000 through the grant program.

Warren County Public Schools will receive $61,269 for use at Warren County Middle School and each elementary school. Tim Grant, director of technology for the division, said that the money will be used to purchase security cameras, a recording server, an electronic access door system and a two-way radio repeater.

“Basically what it is is we’re just trying to equalize everybody,” he said.

The electronic access door system, which Grant said is installed in some schools, allows a secretary to unlock a door while viewing video footage of who is outside the door.

The two-way radio repeater will be used by architectural workers at the new middle school under construction. Grant said the repeater boosts signal so workers can keep up communication at the site, when certain obstacles would block signal.

Frederick County Public Schools will distribute a total of $51,631 among most of the county’s elementary schools, James Wood and Robert E. Aylor middle schools and Sherando High School.

Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications for Frederick County Public Schools, said the division initially asked for around $59,000 based on needs identified by school staff and safety and security staff.

“We do safety audits at all of our schools twice a year, so through that process, needs are identified as well,” he said.

He said a majority of the funding will go toward additional security cameras at the identified schools.

The release added that the School Security Equipment Grants program was created by the 2013 General Assembly after the 2012 mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

School divisions and regional educational programs applied for the grant in June for the 2016 grants. The largest grant amount a school division can receive under the program is $100,000.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com