Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11 Berks), Sen. David G. Argall (R-29 Schuylkill/Berks) and Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, (R-134 Lehigh/Berks) announced that several Berks County school districts were awarded school safety grants.
“We have an obligation, a duty to protect our children, educators and staff in the classroom,” Argall said. “I chaired 10 public roundtable discussions last year with state officials, safety experts, concerned citizens and school officials to discuss the best ways to protect our schools. School districts can now use this grant money to protect their schools in a way that is individualized to their needs.”
State funding awards included Berks Career and Technical Center, $367,626; Brandywine Heights Area School District, $562,775; Exeter Township School District, $393,632; Fleetwood Area School District, $23,222; Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center, $63,429; Schuylkill Valley School District, $88,500; Wyomissing Area School District, $236,558; and Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading & Berks County, $350,000.
“I commend the school districts and school-related programs for pursuing funding to strengthen safety initiatives,” Schwank said. “Berks County schools are consistently at the forefront of proactively providing safe school environments.”
Act 44 of 2018 created a School Safety and Security Fund for the purposes of providing funding to school districts for school safety and security concerns and addressing community violence. Part of Pennsylvania’s 2018-2019 budget included adding $60 million to the fund with $7.5 million for community anti-violence programs and the remaining $52.5 million for school safety.
“Providing a safe and secure learning environment for both students and teachers is essential,” said Mackenzie. “These grants will enable the districts to move forward with their individual plans to increase safety at their facilities.”
Eligible uses for the grants include hiring school security officers, purchasing security-related technology, completing safety and security assessments, implementing violence prevention curricula, offering counseling services for students, and creating other programs to protect students.
A total of approximately $40 million was awarded for 234 projects throughout the state in the current round of funding. In total, the School Safety and Security Grant Program will provide $52.5 million in school safety grants and $7.5 million in community violence prevention grants in the current fiscal year.
Every school district in the state that submitted a meritorious application was awarded a $25,000 grant last October to improve school safety. The grants announced this week were awarded on a competitive basis to schools that were seeking additional funding beyond the original grant.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency received 638 applications for a total of $177.6 million in funding requests. After a review of each application, 234 applications requesting, $40 million, were approved April 30.