Virginia Department of Education Announces $12 Million in School Security Equipment Grants

Virginia’s schools will get $12 million from the commonwealth’s School Security Equipment Grant program; the money will go to schools in 90 divisions to help purchase security systems including surveillance cameras, two-way radios, visitor ID badges, security card access systems, and radios for buses.

“The systems and equipment purchased through these grants will help school divisions control access to school buildings, respond quickly to emergencies and maintain orderly learning environments for students,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a Thursday Virginia Department of Education announcement. “Every student and every teacher should feel safe in their classrooms, during school activities and when traveling to and from school. In many cases, the equipment purchased addresses vulnerabilities identified in annual school security audits.”

The program awards funds to schools with the most need of equipment identified in school security audits, schools with high numbers of offenses, and schools in divisions least able to afford upgrades. Grants range from $14,936 for an elementary school in Surry County up to a maximum of $250,000 for Roanoke, Pulaski, Nelson, Lee, Hopewell, Henry, Franklin, Fauquier, and Fairfax. Most divisions are required to match 25 percent of the award, but Lee County and Scott County are exempt from the match because they don’t meet a local-ability-to-pay threshold.

In 2013, then-Delegate Beverly Sherwood (R-Winchester) sponsored the Public School Security Equipment Grant Act after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. According to the VDOE, the 2020 General Assembly doubled annual funding for the program from $6 million to $12 million and increased the maximum award from $100,000 to $250,000. That same year, legislators also passed two bills from Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) expanding what the funds could be spent on to include devices outside school buildings, on school buses, and vaping detectors.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].


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