Middlesex to spend $215,000 to improve school security
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex County Public School System has received a matching grant of $100,000 as a part of a $6 million statewide grant package for security equipment in an attempt by Governor Bob McDonnell and the Virginia General Assembly to make Virginia schools safer.
The grant is to improve safety and security for students and teachers and will pay for security equipment, including video monitoring systems, metal detectors, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, and communications systems providing direct links between schools and law enforcement agencies.
On September 9, school superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor told the county school board that the funds were specifically designated to be used at Middlesex Elementary School and St. Clare Walker Middle School.
Dr. Taylor also noted that the school system received the maximum amount allowable ($100,000).
Eighty-six school divisions received some funding for 459 school buildings in the state.
The school security equipment grant program was proposed by the Governor in February and established by the General Assembly through the passage of the 2013 Appropriation Act.
The legislation directed the Virginia Public School Authority to issue bonds to fund up to $6 million in competitive grants statewide for the purchase and installation of safety equipment.
“I can think of no more important legislative accomplishment than this investment in the safety and security of our students, teachers, principals and other public school employees,” said Governor McDonnell. “These grants, and the other important steps we’ve taken this year to improve school security, will make a real difference as we strive to make sure Virginia’s schools remain places where children can learn in safety.”
The legislation came out of a blue-ribbon panel set up in the aftermath of the December 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 students, the school’s principal, two teachers, two aides and a school psychologist.
In April, the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors agreed on a 5-year capital improvement plan that included funding school safety features at all three county schools.
It specifically noted that all three entry points into schools need automated electric locks and pass key systems for optimal safety, the report stated.
The board of supervisors has appropriated $115,000, which can be used as the matching portion of the state grant, so the school system will have $215,000 to spend on improving school security.