Penn. Governor Awards $5 Million in Safe School Initiative Grants

Approximately $2.5 million of the federal grant will go towards providing training and compensation for school resource officers.
Published: December 5, 2017

The governor of Pennsylvania has awarded $5 million in Safe School Initiative grants to nearly 140 schools, police departments and municipalities across the state.

Governor Tom Wolf made the announcement last week, indicating the money will go towards safety equipment, betterment programs and placing school resource officers in public schools.

“Whether students are learning in one of our large cities or a rural community, they need a secure and supportive environment to do their best in the classroom,” said Governor Wolf. “This funding enables schools and communities to have the resources they need to keep students safe, and it builds on our commitment to kids, parents and teachers across the commonwealth.”

The Safe School Initiative is a targeted grant program that assists schools in reducing unnecessary student disciplinary actions and promoting an environment of productivity, safety and learning, according to the Philly Trib.

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The program also aims to enhance anti-violence efforts between schools and parents, local governments, law enforcement and community organizations.

Approximately $1.4 million from the federally funded program has been awarded to 79 public school programs to reduce violence and acquire safety equipment.

Safety equipment the grant will cover includes visitor identification systems, metal detectors, protective lighting, surveillance equipment, electronic locks and necessary training in security-related technology, reports The Tribune Democrat.

Nearly $2.5 million has been awarded to 60 school entities, municipalities and police departments to provide training and compensation for school resource officers.

Those who applied for the grants were eligible for $60,000 for a School Resource Officer and $40,000 for a School Police Officer.

The amount of money spent by the state on school safety has not changed since the 2013-2014 school year, according to Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Board Association.

“We’ve been supportive of this grant money and anecdotally, schools appreciate having an additional source of money to help cover costs for school safety upgrades and/or school resource officers,” says Robinson. “Any funding put toward the safety of our students and staff is money well spent. Could more be done with more money? Sure, but you can say that about almost anything.”

Edward Albert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools, says the funding will be especially useful for rural schools that are located miles from a police station.

Since schools that received funding last year for school resource officers or police officers under the grant program were not allowed to seek grant money again this year, the remaining $900,000 will go towards second-year funding for last year’s approved officers.

A full list of awardees and their award amounts can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website.

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