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Six county schools get security grants

Six Halifax County schools have been awarded $52,080 in school security equipment grants to improve safety and security for students and teachers.

Clays Mill Elementary, Halifax County High, Meadville Elementary, Scottsburg Elementary, Sinai Elementary and Sydnor Jennings Elementary are among 459 Virginia schools and regional education programs awarded $6 million in school security equipment grants.

The grants will pay for security equipment, including video monitoring systems, metal detectors, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems and communications systems providing direct links between schools and law enforcement agencies.

The School Security Equipment Grant program was proposed by the governor in February and established by the General Assembly through the passage of the 2013 Appropriation Act and House Bill 2343, which was sponsored by Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Winchester. 

Under HB 2343, school divisions awarded grants must provide a local match of 25 percent of the grant amount which means Halifax County Schools will have to provide $13,020 as its match.

The legislation directed the Virginia Public School Authority to issue bonds to fund up to $6 million in competitive grants statewide for the purchase and installation of school security equipment. School divisions and regional educational programs were invited in June to apply for grants of up to $100,000.

 “I can think of no more important legislative accomplishment than this investment in the safety and security of our students, teachers, principals and other public school employees,” Governor Bob McDonnell said. “These grants, and the other important steps we’ve taken this year to improve school security, will make a real difference as we strive to make sure Virginia’s schools remain places where children can learn in safety.” 

Two divisions — Lee County and Scott County — are exempt from the local-match requirement because both have a composite index of local ability-to-pay of less than 0.2000. 

The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind also is exempt. 

The 2013 Appropriation Act includes a second round of School Security Equipment Grants next summer. As with the first round announced today, the grants — not to exceed $6 million statewide — will be awarded on a competitive basis, with school divisions and regional programs eligible to receive up to $100,000. The same local-match requirement will also apply to School Security Equipment Grants awarded in 2014.