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Funds were made available after the Sandy Hook shootings.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Lynchburg-area school districts are aiming for state grant money to beef up security on campuses in an era of tight budgets and heightened fears over gun violence.
The Virginia Department of Education administered a grant program that could provide school systems up to $100,000 per year for security equipment.
The grants come in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six school employees dead in December 2012.
Legislation in this year’s General Assembly session authorized $6 million per year in grant money for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The measure was recommended by a task force formed just six days after the Sandy Hook shooting to review school safety in Virginia. It is one of 13 pieces of campus safety legislation signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in early June.
Enhancing security in Virginia schools became a heavily debated topic during budget deliberations for local governments earlier this year.
Lynchburg-area law enforcement officials had requested additional school resource officers to have a police presence in all county schools. Some counties approved the additional deputies, some added a few deputies to split their time among the schools and some did not fund additional officers, citing tight budgets.
Thursday was the deadline for districts to apply for the security equipment grants.
Bedford County Schools filed two applications for security equipment, including cameras, said Sara Staton, director of special services.
A provision allowed the division to seek grant money for the Bedford City School District, she said, which no longer exists after the former city reverted to a town July 1.
Lynchburg City Schools and Appomattox County Schools also applied.
The grants will be distributed on a competitive basis, and school systems will be notified in early September if they are to receive the money, according to the Department of Education website.
Recipients must purchase the security equipment within six months of the notification — by March 3, according to a June 21 memo to division superintendents from Patricia Wright, superintendent of public instruction for the Virginia Department of Education.
The grants cover more than a dozen types of security equipment. The money does not cover school construction work or professional fees.
A local match of 25 percent is required.
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