Western Tidewater getting $130,429 in school security grants

Published 1:50 pm Saturday, September 27, 2014

To enhance their security, seven schools in Western Tidewater will receive grants totaling $130,429.

The money is part of the $6 million School Security Equipment Grants, which were awarded on Thursday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to 100 school systems and six regional education programs in Virginia.

Southampton’s School Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish is looking forward to putting the county’s share to use.

“It’s good to see that we were awarded the grant. This year it’s $38,863,” Parrish said. “We’re applying the money to the Fresh Start Center, Meherrin and Nottoway elementary schools.”

Electronic entry systems will be installed. These use coded cards instead of keys, “which can be duplicated so easily,” she added. “Electronic entry we think is a safer way for schools to function. It creates a safer environment for teaching and learning.”

As indicated, this isn’t the first time Southampton has benefited from such a grant. For the 2013-2014 school year, which was the first for the program statewide, the county got $96,436. The electronic entries were installed at the other schools.

Based on last year’s award, Parrish anticipates “a pretty quick turnaround” on receiving the money and then buying the security system. She’s confident that all could happen by the end of the year.

Franklin’s award is $57,577 for S.P. Morton Elementary, J.P. King Jr. Middle and Franklin High schools.

“What we’ll be doing is funding to enhance and strengthen security at the schools,” said Kelvin Edwards. He’s the director of organizational accountability and performance management, as well as serving as a public relations liaison.

Radios, keypads and cameras are on the Franklin wish list. The radios, he said, could provide instant contact for administration and staff throughout the building of each campus. All three schools could get additional keypad entry systems. The additional cameras would be set up for monitoring outside activity.

Isle of Wight County Public School is awarded $33,989 for Windsor Elementary School. But representatives from the school system could not be reached for comment.

The grant program was created as a reaction to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 students and six adult faculty and staff members. Lanza had reportedly first killed his mother at home before going to the school, and shot himself in the head after the shootings.

The 2013 Virginia General Assembly authorized the Virginia Public School Authority to issue bonds that would fund $6 million in grants for the next two school years. The 2014 GA gave the OK for another competition for 2015-2016.