(The Center Square) – The Virginia Department of Education awarded $12 million worth of School Security Equipment Grants, which are designed to protect students, faculty and visitors, the department announced.
The grant money will be dispersed among 583 schools in 93 different school divisions. The grants will fund video monitoring systems, voice and video internal communications systems, school bus interior cameras and mass notification systems. It will also include funding for visitor identification systems, access control systems, two-way radios, security vestibules and other security equipment.
“The health and safety of students and school staff is paramount,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a statement. “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.”
Most of the schools receiving grants are required to match the funds by at least 25%. Only three school divisions are exempt from matching the grant money, based on their inability to afford a match: Buena Vista, Lee County and Scott County. In 2019, the General Assembly voted to double the budget for the grant program from $6 million to $12 million and increase the maximum amount of money available to a school from $100,000 to $250,000.
A majority of school divisions that are receiving the funds were awarded funding below the maximum. However, some school districts received a full $250,000. This includes Charlottesville, Fairfax County, Fredericksburg, Lee County, Nelson County, Pittsylvania County and Stafford County.