WETHERSFIELD — Governor Dannel P. Malloy on July 17 announced that the application process will begin next week for the next round of the School Security Grant Program.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will be sending application packets to eligible public and private schools beginning the week of July 21. The program was originally created as part of the historic 2013 legislation on gun violence prevention, mental health and school safety. Including the July 17 announcement, the state has made $43 million available for school security since 2013.
“Providing safe learning environments for our students and educators is a basic responsibility of state and local governments,” said Gov Malloy. “Last year, we secured $21 million to support grant requests for security upgrades at 604 schools in 111 districts –—every school that applied. With this additional funding, we will have made $43 million available to improve school security in just over a year.
“Connecticut has made significant strides in our effort to provide safe learning environments for our students,” the governor continued. “This next round of funding will allow us to get the resources out to communities that need to modernize their school security infrastructure to help keep students safe.”
The matching-grant grant program is administered by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). State funding is used to reimburse a portion of the costs associated with school security infrastructure improvements.
The program will expand eligibility to all public schools, including technical and inter-district magnet schools, and private schools. The program will also expand the security infrastructure eligible for reimbursement to include real time interoperable communications and multimedia sharing infrastructure. As under existing law, eligible infrastructure also includes the installation of surveillance cameras, penetration resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double-door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms, and other systems.
Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor also commented on the additional funding.
“Modernizing school security is a priority for communities across Connecticut. Many districts have undertaken upgrades over the past two school years, but more remains to be done. State resources and assistance allow our schools to continue this important work,” Mr Pryor said. “We are grateful for the governor’s leadership on the issue of school security and for the General Assembly’s sustained support.”
DESPP Deputy Commissioner William Shea said the expansion of the program demonstrates the continuing commitment and investment the governor has maide to the state’s children and educators.
“Public safety is one of the core functions of our government, especially when it comes to our children’s safety and security,” said Mr Shea.
In February, the School Security Infrastructure Council released updated security standards that require a more comprehensive and uniform consideration of school security measures to help make schools safe. The SSIC standards, which apply to all schools seeking state financial assistance for new construction or substantial renovation, became effective July 1.
Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Donald DeFronzo said SSIC continues to move with the implementation of the new infrastructure standards as required by statute.
“These standards require a comprehensive and uniform consideration of school security measures at the local level,” Mr DeFronzo said. “We feel the committee’s actions have helped move Connecticut to the forefront of preventative school design.”
AFT Connecticut President Melodie Pointed out that if children and the professionals who educate them do not feel safe, welcome and secure in schools, then they will not be able to focus on what matters most: the day’s lessons.
“Our students are the reason we do what we do every day and these investments will go a long way to support the opportunity for a great education they all deserve,” she said. “On behalf of the teachers, paraprofessionals and school employees across the state in AFT Connecticut, I extend our appreciation to the Malloy-Wyman Administration for their commitment to safer schools.”
The executive director of The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) said improving the safety and security of students, teachers and others who work in schools has been “a major priority” since 12/14.
“This latest action on the part of the Governor is consistent with this ongoing effort,” said CAPSS Executive Director Dr Joseph J. Cirasuolo. CAPSS, he added, “is grateful to the governor and other state leaders for their continued commitment to making our schools as safe and secure as they can be.”
Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel to the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), said her board “is pleased that the State is continuing its commitment to support local and regional school boards in addressing critical school security needs.”
Dr Karissa L. Niehoff, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) stated: “The Connecticut Association of Schools greatly appreciates the State’s continuing effort to support schools in the area of school safety and security. Grant programs such as this make a tremendous difference, especially at a time when fiscal resources in school districts are tight. The State is sending a clear message through this fiscal gesture that the safety of children in our schools is a priority.”
The Connecticut Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) also commented on Thursday.
President Tashie Rosen said: “As school business managers, we keenly recognize the fiscal reality of security enhancements. [CASBO] greatly appreciates the governor’s support of this important effort with the allocation of additional security grants. We are committed to the safety and well-being of Connecticut’s students. These funds will allow schools to provide even greater security.”