REGION—Earlier this summer, passage of Act 44 of 2018 established $60 million in state funding allocated for Pennsylvania schools to enhance their safety and security systems.

REGION—Earlier this summer, passage of Act 44 of 2018 established $60 million in state funding allocated for Pennsylvania schools to enhance their safety and security systems.
Established through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency's (PCCD's) School Safety and Security Committee (SSSC), the funding is available in the form of a two-part grant application.
Part one consists of a meritorious application wherein all districts which applied received $25,000.
These funds were dispersed at the end of October, with many local districts being recipients.
In addition to the meritorious grant, districts can further apply for additional funding from the Safety and Security Grant Program's competitive pool.
This second round of awards is still in the vetting process, awaiting winner selection and announcement.

Many ways

According to PCCD materials, these grants are expected to impact schools in the following ways:
• An increase in the number of safety and security assessments of school buildings throughout Pennsylvania;
• An increase in training opportunities for administrators, teachers, staff and students;
• An increase in the use of school-wide positive behavioral supports and other evidence-based programs related to school safety and security;
• Improvements to districtwide school safety, violence prevention, emergency preparedness and all-hazards plans;
• An increase in security planning efforts and the purchase of security-related technology and equipment;
• An increase in the provision of counseling services for students;
• An increase in the use of school resource officers and school police officers; and
• An increase in the use of trauma-informed approaches to education.
Uses for the funding include things such as supplementing compensation for school resource officers, a variety of safety-oriented training programs for staff and students, counseling for students, and purchase of new or improved security equipment throughout the district.
Local awardees of the grant's meritorious disbursements have put the funds to a number of uses throughout their districts.

North Pocono

According to Bryan McGraw, Superintendent of North Pocono School District (NPSD), Safety and Security Grant funds are planned to supplement the salaries of school resource officers (SROs) in the district.
McGraw explained North Pocono recently increased the number of SROs in the district from two to five, so that there is one available in every building.
Should North Pocono be awarded funds from the second part of the grant, McGraw noted the money would likely go to security camera and SRO gear upgrades in the district.
“We're extremely happy there's money coming from the state,” said McGraw of the grant funding. “We hope there's more to come.”

Wallenpaupack

Mike Silsby, Superintendent of Wallenpaupack Area School District (WASD) explained the funding is planned for upgrades to the security camera systems in the North Primary and South Elementary school buildings.
He expects these improvements to be in place by the start of 2019.
“We're always looking at more safety and security upgrades,” Silsby said. “And, we're always happy to have these funds available.”

Wayne Highlands

Timothy Morgan, Assistant Superintendent in the Wayne Highlands School District (WHSD), explained his district's funding is planned to make mental health services more readily available to students through supplementing services provided by a school therapist or social worker.
“We're looking to be proactive,” said Morgan, “to help the kids on the front side and avoid larger issues down the road.”
The ultimate goal, said Morgan, is to help students have a happy life.
Looking ahead to the competitive grant, Morgan explained any additional funds received would be put toward increasing the presence of the districts SRO.

Western Wayne

According to Dr. Matthew Barrett, Superintendent of Western Wayne School District (WWSD), School Safety and Security Grant funds will be put toward the salary of a second SRO for the district.
“So, someone could be here on [the high school/middle school] campus and the other can go to the elementary schools, bounce around there, check in, make sure everything's ok,” said Barrett. “It's a tremendous asset to have.”
If awarded funds from the competitive aspect of the grant, Barrett said Western Wayne plans to use them for positive behavior support, Tact2 de-escalation training for staff, and extra surveillance capabilities in the district.

Carbondale Area

Carbondale Area School District also received $25,000 from the meritorious portion of the School Safety and Security Grant Program, but The Wayne Independent was unable to make contact with the district prior to print deadline Friday afternoon.
In regards to the grant program, Pennsylvania Senator John Blake (D-22nd, Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe Counties) stated in a release, “I was proud to support the creation of this new grant program through our budget negotiations in June to ensure that our schools have the resources and funding necessary to secure our learning environments and keep our students safe.
“I am very proud of our school districts for applying for this important grant funding.”
Similarly, Pennsylvania Representative Jonathan Fritz (R-111th, Wayne/Susquehanna Counties), stated in a release, “As a Legislature, one of our top priorities is the protection and safety of children in the Commonwealth which is why we created this School Safety and Security Grant Program.
“This program makes it possible for school districts to afford extra security equipment and develop necessary safety precautions to make sure they can continue to keep their students protected and provide a safe learning environment.”
—Information from a press release was used in this story.