Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania Schools Receive $40 Million in Grants for School Safety and Community Violence Prevention Grants
May 02, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that The School Safety and Security Committee (Committee) established within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) by Act 44 of 2018 approved $40 million in school safety grants to 234 school entities plus $7.5 million in community violence prevention and reduction grants to 25 grant recipients throughout the commonwealth.
“These grants are the mechanism we need to create local strategies that will increase safety for our children and our teachers and prevent violence in classrooms and communities across the commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “Schools should be safe, secure places for our children to focus on their education and on preparing themselves for a lifetime of success, not another place we need to worry about sending our children. Awarding these grants to more than 200 schools means a safer Pennsylvania.”
Per Act 44, school districts, intermediate units, area vocational-technical schools, charter schools and private residential rehabilitation institutions were eligible to apply up to a maximum of $6 million to support one or more activities allowed by the statute.
Activities and items allowed include performing school safety assessments; purchasing security-related technology and equipment; supporting school safety-related and behavioral-health trainings; preparing all-hazards plans; hiring school resource officers, school police officers, school counselors, social workers and school psychologists; and providing for trauma-informed approaches to education.
Of the school safety applications, 75 percent of grantees requested funding related to security planning and the purchase of security-related technology. The next most popular request was for trauma-informed approaches to education, the development and revision of school safety plans and all-hazards plans, staff training in the use of positive behavioral supports, counseling services for students, specialized staff and student training programs, and costs associated with the training an compensation of certified guidance counselors, licensed professional counselors, licensed social workers, licensed clinical social workers and school psychologists.
The 17-member School Safety and Security Committee includes four legislative members, who offered comment on these expansive grants:
“This grant program has already proven to be very successful in helping local school districts take the steps they need to make our students safer and our school buildings more secure,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. “This $40 million will provide some much-needed assistance to ensure our schools are safe; however, the total request from schools was $177.6 million, which illustrates that we must continue to fund this vital program. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, I will be advocating for additional dollars to go to this program during the state budget conversations.”
“As a lead advocate of school safety, I know there are tremendous school safety needs that must be met to protect our children, teachers and those who work in our schools,” Sen. Jim Brewster said. “All schools need funds to make safety upgrades. We must do more to reach every district with state resources. School safety funding should be a priority, and our focus should be on issuing more grants to more schools over a longer period of time. Adding more funds for school safety to this year’s budget is imperative. It will ensure that funding is available for those school districts who did not receive grants this year.”
“As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I put the safety of our students and school personnel first,” Rep. Donna Bullock said. “There is a clear need for physical, behavioral health, training and other school safety resources for our schools and communities. The demand for the School Safety Grant Program was tremendous, far in excess of available resources, which made the funding decisions difficult. Every student should feel safe; every school should be safe. Governor Wolf’s 2019/20 budget proposal allocates $45 million for the School Safety and Security Grant Program. This budget season offers us an opportunity to invest more resources into school safety and learn from the important work done in the first year of the School Safety and Security Committee.
“As a member of the committee, I’m pleased we were able to award these grants in a timely fashion,” said Rep. Jason Ortitay. “School safety is at the forefront in many people’s minds, especially parents. The programs funded through these grants will make a difference, but we are not done. We must evaluate what additional resources schools need. I’m eager to continue my work on this committee.”
In addition to the school safety grants, municipalities, counties, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations were eligible to apply for $7.5 million in community violence prevention and reduction grants to support programs designed to reduce community violence. Funding for this solicitation also came from Act 44 funds.
Of the community violence applications, 25 applicants received an award of up to $350,000 each for a two-year project. Activities and items allowed by Act 44 included increasing access to trauma-informed support services and behavioral health care; providing health services and intervention strategies; providing mentoring and other intervention models to children and their families who have experienced trauma or at-risk of experiencing trauma; and fostering and promoting communication between school entities, communities and law enforcement.
More information about the School Safety and Security Committee, including school safety assessment criteria and an online registry of individuals qualified to perform those assessments can be found on PCCD’s School Safety and Security webpage.