The Stratford School District is one of 36 in Connecticut to receive state grant money for security upgrades at school buildings.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced Wednesday that Stratford will receive $135,334 to offset the cost associated with school infrastructure upgrades to enhance safety. Those upgrades are being made in the wake December's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
All told, the state awarded $5 million to be used for safety enhancements in 169 schools across Connecticut.
This money is the first round of a competitive state grant program for school security, which is part of the Gun Violence and Children’s Safety Act, according to a news release from the governor.
“After the horrific events on Dec. 14, Connecticut cities and towns moved swiftly to improve security infrastructures at schools in need,” Malloy states in the release. "This funding allows districts with the most need to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”
Stratford has already bonded about $94,000 in its capital improvement plan for safety upgrades, according to Marc Dillon, the mayor's chief of staff. The state grant application stipulated that municipalities must set aside their own money in order to be eligible for the state funds.
Dillon said security enhancements that have already been implemented include the upgrading of doors and hardware, with a focus on the exteriors of schools, and the removal of shrubbery and trees that blocked windows or other important lines of sight.
The new funds will go toward installing cameras and panic buttons at all of the district's schools, Dillon said.
The mayor's chief of staff said the Stratford Board of Education, which secured the state funding, will continue to apply for additional funds.
More about the state's competitive grant program for school security from the governor's office:
The grant awards, administered by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) in consultation with the Department of Education and the Department of Construction Services (DCS), were based on a school security assessment survey conducted by each local school district that applied.
Each municipality will be reimbursed between 20 and 80 percent according to town wealth, as defined in subdivision (26) of section 10-262f of the Connecticut General Statutes. Funds from municipalities, which total $3,921,435, will be matched with nearly $5 million in state funding for an overall $8,911,853 investment in school security among 169 schools.
"In the wake of the events at Sandy Hook last year, many districts across Connecticut are working to strengthen the safety and security of school buildings and grounds this year. And, at the same time, these districts are striving to maintain warm, welcoming learning environments for our students. The grants awarded today will help our schools accomplish these two essential goals,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
“We are grateful to Governor Malloy, the General Assembly, and our partner state agencies for investing in safe and welcoming learning environments for our young people.”
School districts receiving awards are: Avon, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, Enfield, Greenwich, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Ledyard, Mansfield, Meriden, Middletown, Montville, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Hartford, North Haven, Norwalk, Plymouth, Portland, Regional School District No. 6 (Warren, Morris and Goshen), Regional School District No. 14 (Woodbury and Bethlehem), Rocky Hill, Shelton, Southington, Stamford, Sterling, Stratford, Vernon, West Haven, Westport, Wethersfield, and Winchester.
“Public Safety is a core function of our government, especially when it comes to our children’s security,” DESPP Deputy Commissioner William Shea said. “These funds show the commitment and investment Governor Malloy has made to the safety of our children and educators and is another vital step in improving the security infrastructure of our schools.”
DESPP received 111 applications for proposed infrastructure projects in 604 school buildings, consisting of the installation of surveillance cameras, bullet proof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms. A future round of funding will be announced soon.
“We all wish that this program was not needed, but unfortunately we must adapt to the new reality that Sandy Hook tragically brought to our state,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said. “This funding will not only make our schools more secure, but will give us the peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to live up to our obligation to provide a safe learning environment for our children.”