The Virginia Department of Education announced $12 million in state School Security Equipment Grants to protect students, faculty and visitors in 583 schools in 93 school divisions. The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, voice and video internal communications systems, school bus interior cameras, mass notification systems, visitor-identification systems, access control systems, two-way radios, security vestibules and other security upgrades.
“The health and safety of students and school staff is paramount,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “These grants are an important part of equipping schools with the systems necessary to mitigate security risks, detect threats and connect schools with first responders. The commonwealth continues to lead the nation in proactively addressing school safety as VDOE works in partnership with other state agencies and local school divisions to keep students, faculty and visitors safe in our schools.”
The criteria for making the awards — developed by VDOE and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services — give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades. The divisions awarded grants include:
- Henry County — $52,000 for Axton Elementary, Bassett High, Fieldale-Collinsville Middle, G.W. Carver Elementary, Laurel Park Middle, Magna Vista High, Mount Olivet Elementary, Rich Acres Elementary, Sanville Elementary and Stanleytown Elementary.
- Martinsville — $32,533 for Albert Harris Elementary, Clearview Early Learning Center, Martinsville High, Martinsville Middle, and Patrick Henry Elementary.
- Patrick County — $143,922 for Meadows of Dan Elementary, Stuart Elementary and Woolwine Elementary.
Also, among localities receiving grants are:
- Carroll County — $62,240 for Carroll County High, Carroll County Middle, Fancy Gap Elementary,
- Danville — $94,330 for Edwin A. Gibson Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, G.L.H. Johnson Elementary, Galileo Magnet High, George Washington High, Grove Park Preschool, O. Trent Bonner Middle, Park Avenue Elementary, Schoolfield Elementary, The Northside Preschool, Westwood Middle and Woodberry Hills Elementary.
- Franklin County — $28,720 for Benjamin Franklin Middle, Boones Mill Elementary, Burnt Chimney Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Dudley Elementary, Ferrum Elementary, Franklin County High, Henry Elementary and Rocky Mount Elementary.
- Galax — $200,000 for Galax Elementary, Galax High and Galax Middle.
- Grayson County — $83,553 for Fairview Elementary, Fries Elementary, Independence Elementary and Independence Middle.
A local match of 25 percent is required of most divisions. Three school divisions with composite indices of local-ability-to-pay of less than 0.2 — Buena Vista, Lee and Scott counties — are exempt from the local-match requirement.
The 2019 Appropriation Act doubled the total annual appropriation for the grant program — effective in 2020 — from $6 million, to $12 million. The 2019 General Assembly also approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to increase the maximum award per school division — also effective in 2020 — from $100,000, to $250,000.
The School Security Equipment Grants program was established by the 2013 General Assembly in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.