School Safety Grant

School Safety Thumbnail 1NEK- Two-hundred and thirty-nine of Vermont schools have received 4 million dollars in grants from the Homeland Security Grant Program. This money directly takes care of the facilities and personnel which provide safety for these schools, however there is also an additional one million dollars available for training and planning.  

 

The immediate purpose of the funding is to tighten school security and notification infrastructure. This will be done by providing state-of-the-art interior and exterior door locks, indoor and outdoor PA systems and technology databases that allow for prompt notifications. Although schools are eligible for up to $25,000 each, the average funding is about $16,000 per school as well as the schools being held to a 25 percent grant match.  

The funding will be given to these selected schools for the onset of this school year as well as the additional financial support to develop emergency plans and safety and training exercises for staff and students. Ensuring safety in schools will help contribute to the ultimate goal, a focus on learning for students and faculty.  

An unfortunate catalyst to this funding was the school shooting threat in Fair Haven, Vermont back in February made by Jack Sawyer. He had later told investigators that he had been planning a shooting of Rutland County School for a couple years.  

Governor Phil Scott said in response to receiving these grants, “Looking ahead we will continue to do all we can to enhance the safety of our schools for our children, parents, faculty and the community.”  

Governor Scott is also working with the Legislature to fund additional improvements to ensure school safety across the entire education system.  

Custodians of the schools who received this funding must thoroughly examine the school to determine what it is that needs to be upgraded for a safer school, as well as any additional safety measures that are seen fit. There is a $25,000 funding cap per school so whatever is needed and wanted for safety must be within this price range. School size and budget are also a large contributor to the amount of funding the school will receive because of the twenty-five percent of the grant which these schools are responsible for covering.  

Kingdom East Superintendent Jennifer Botzojorns mentioned “Some of the grant money is for a defunct security camera system or I think there is locking mechanisms on doors and the buzzers to come in. Those sorts of items.”    

Some schools are already sound in one end of the security department and some schools are sound in the other end of it, different schools vary in what they already have and what needs work. Regardless of what is actually needed, the main goal is to create the safest learning environment possible for students, parents, and staff.

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