By Ed Harris
Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi is appreciative of a recently announced state grant that will allow for better security at ALTA, but he was hoping to receive enough grant money to increase security measures at all of the schools in the district. He is hoping further funding comes from a planned second round of grants in early 2014.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Erardi said.
Last week, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that 169 schools, in 36 districts, will receive funds in the first round of the Competitive Grant Program for school security, part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act. State funding of $5 million will be used to reimburse municipalities for a portion of the costs associated security infrastructure improvements made in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
“After the horrific events on December 14th, Connecticut cities and towns moved swiftly to improve security infrastructures at schools in need,” Gov. Malloy said in a statement. “We will never be able to prevent every random act, but we can take the steps necessary to make sure that our children and our teachers are as safe as possible. This funding allows districts with the most need to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”
The awards, administered by the Department of Emergency Services (DESPP) and Public Protection in consultation with the Department of Education (SDE) and the Department of Construction Services (DCS), were based on a school security assessment survey conducted by each local school district that applied. Each municipality will be reimbursed between 20 and 80 percent according to town wealth. Funds from municipalities, which total $3,921,435, will be matched with nearly $5 million in state funding for an overall $8,911,853 investment in school security among the 169 schools.
Southington received $3,459 from the state. This is the second lowest amount received by a municipality, with only Greenwich, which received $1,918, receiving less. Bridgeport, which received the most, was awarded $1,035,375.
In Southington, the grant money will be used to implement security measures at ALTA, including a walkie-talkie system that will allow the director to speak directly with Erardi in the case of an emergency. Erardi declined to go into further details on the safety measures.
“We’ve put measures in place that will deter any potential heinous crimes that could occur,” Erardi said.
The school districts that received grant money are, Avon, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, Enfield, Greenwich, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Ledyard, Mansfield, Meriden, Middletown, Montville, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Hartford, North Haven, Norwalk, Plymouth, Portland, Regional School District No. 6 (Warren, Morris and Goshen), Regional School District No. 14 (Woodbury and Bethlehem), Rocky Hill, Shelton, Southington, Stamford, Sterling, Stratford, Vernon, West Haven, Westport, Wethersfield, and Winchester.
DESPP received 111 applications for proposed infrastructure projects in 604 school buildings, consisting of the installation of surveillance cameras, bullet proof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms. The grant money can only be spent on infrastructure expenditures.
By Ed Harris