WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County Public Schools recently received a state grant that will pay the bulk of the cost of security upgrades at two middle schools and each of the three elementary schools in the division.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in early November announced a total of $12 million in state School Security Equipment Grants to protect students, faculty and staff and visitors at 431 schools in 90 school divisions.
The grant awarded to SCPS provides $188,296. Division officials plan to use money from the county’s 2021 Lease Revenue Bond to cover the required 25% local match.
The matching funds total $49,534. That figure is slightly more than 25% of the grant amount but is needed to complete the upgrades, according to Jessica Sager, SCPS’ coordinator of school and community relations. The total project cost is $237,830.
The funding will be spent on classroom security door hardware at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg and Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock, security cameras at Honey Run Elementary in Quicksburg and Sandy Hook Elementary in Strasburg, and classroom security door hardware and security cameras at W.W. Robinson Elementary in Woodstock.
“Our schools have security equipment,” Sager said in an email on Wednesday. “The grant will be used to upgrade” various security measures.
She said the grant money must be spent by June 30.
At tonight’s School Board meeting, the board will be asked to approve increasing the division’s fiscal year 2023 budget by appropriating the grant funds. The public session starts at 7 p.m. in the Board Meeting Room at the county Government Center.
In addition to cameras and classroom security door hardware, the state grants awarded to schools throughout Virginia will pay the majority of the cost of voice and video internal communication systems, mass notification systems, visitor ID badging systems, two-way radios, interior school bus cameras and other security upgrades.
“The systems and equipment purchased through these grants will help school divisions control access to school buildings, respond quickly to emergencies and maintain orderly learning environments for students,” Jillian Balow, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, said in a Nov. 10 news release announcing the overall grant funding. “Every student and every teacher should feel safe in their classrooms, during school activities and when traveling to and from school.”
Developed by the VDOE and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, the criteria for making the grant awards give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades, according to the news release.
Other area schools that were recently awarded School Security Equipment Grants include John Handley High and Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elementary in Winchester, Indian Hollow Elementary in Frederick County, and A.S. Rhodes Elementary, Wilson Morrison Elementary, Skyline Middle and Warren County Middle in Warren County.
The General Assembly established the grants program in 2013, in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
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