By Ed Harris
Southington has received more grant money from the state to better safeguard the schools.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy recently announced that an additional 75 school districts, covering 435 schools, will receive funds as part of the School Security Grant Program, part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act.
An additional $16 million in state funding 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.
The first round of grants went out in September.
“This allows us to continue to get resources out to the cities and towns that have begun work to modernize their security infrastructure and ramp up safety procedures at school buildings in the wake of the horrific events on December 14,” said Gov. Malloy, in a release. “We will never be able to prevent every random act of violence, but we can take the steps necessary to make sure that our children and our teachers are as safe as possible. This funding allows an additional 435 schools to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”
Southington received $3,459 from the state in the first round of grants. The grant money is planned to be used to implement security measures at ALTA, including a walkie-talkie system that will allow the director to speak directly with Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi in the case of an emergency.
In the second round of grants, Southington will receive $90,183. This money will be used to fund security measures at the remaining schools.
“I am pleased with the second round of grant funding as our district will receive $90,000 reimbursement from our original expenditure of $160,000,” Dr. Erardi said. “I applaud the governor for his commitment to school safety.”
While he did not go into specifics, Erardi said the school’s safety plan embraces “buying time” in the case of a crisis.
“We have put measures in place in all of our schools that will allow us to appropriately respond to a crisis, and to do so, in partnership with local safety officials,” Erardi said. “I am proud of the work that the school board did to bring us to this point.”
With the additional round of grants, a total of $21 million has now been allocated to the school security grant program. Governor Malloy was able to secure an additional $6 million in state bond funds to enable all schools that applied in round one to be funded. This brings the total school districts funded in round one to 111, covering 604 schools. In September, Governor Malloy announced that $5 million in state funding would support school security projects at 169 schools.
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 taken into account factors such as municipality’s grand list and overall number of need based students, as defined in subdivision (26) of section 10-262f of the Connecticut General Statutes.
The grant money can only be spent on infrastructure expenditures, including, but not limited to, the installation of surveillance cameras, bullet proof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms.
The governor’s office expects another round of funding in the near future.