Local Divisions Garner Grants To Secure Schools
A visitor check-in system at John Wayland Elementary School is among the security improvements implemented as a result of receiving security grant funds. ABOVE: Christine Coddington puts on a visitor badge to a visit her daughter Claire, 5, in Kellie Sawyer’s kindergarten class Wednesday at John Wayland Elementary School in Bridgewater. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
Amanda Fitzwater checks her daughter, Layla, 8, back into class at John Wayland Elementary School.
An intercom and buzz-in entry system for the office door was installed at the end of the school year last spring at John Wayland Elementary School in Bridgewater.
The funds are a sliver of $6 million in school security equipment grants that were proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell and approved by the 2013 General Assembly. Those divisions receiving grants got the word Tuesday from the governor’s office.
Nearly 460 schools and regional education programs received grants of up to $100,000 to pay for such equipment as video-monitoring systems, metal detectors and communication systems.
Rockingham applied to receive funds for all 25 division schools, according to Steve Reid, RCPS director of maintenance. The governor’s office ultimately awarded grants to 17.
Those schools are Broadway, East Rockingham, Spotswood and Turner Ashby high schools, Elkton, J. Frank Hillyard, Montevideo and Wilbur S. Pence middle schools, and Elkton, Fulks Run, John C. Myers, John Wayland, Linville-Edom, McGaheysville, Ottobine, Plains and Pleasant Valley elementary schools.
The division has had visitor check-in systems at some of its schools for as long as seven years, Reid said. Now, each one is equipped with the software, which allows visitors to type in their name, intent of their visit and take a photograph for a name badge that they wear around the school.
Reid said the software used to be available for free, but now costs about $240 per school.
The grant money also will help pay for panic buttons at each school.
“We are delighted to receive this award of support for the completion of our security efforts,” Superintendent Carol Fenn wrote in an email.
The school divisions in Page and Shenandoah counties also received part of the funds. Harrisonburg City Schools did not apply for a grant because the division had no immediate needs, according to Scott Kizner, the division’s superintendent.
Page received more than $89,000 for upgrades to Grove Hill Preschool and Luray, Shenandoah, Springfield and Stanley elementary schools.
Shenandoah County received $43,704 for improvements to North Fork, Peter Muhlenberg and Signal Knob middle schools, and Stonewall Jackson and Strasburg high schools.
Ramping up security has been a focus for schools in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office began assigning more resource officers after the shooting. The county allocated $50,000 to help cover the cost of an officer in each school.
Page County, too, has been adding to its police presence in its schools. The division was one of 24 localities in Virginia to receive funding from the Criminal Justice Services Board to increase the number of school resource officers.
In Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, locking down entrances became the immediate priority. Both divisions now have entrances at all their schools that filter visitors through a secure area and into the school’s main office.
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