NORFOLK-Schools in Hampton Roads and across Virginia are getting safety upgrades thanks to a statewide grant.
“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.
A $6 million School Security Equipment Grant will be divided among 459 Virginia schools, giving priority to schools currently without modern security equipment, older buildings, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, and schools in divisions least able to afford upgrades.
Several school districts are receiving thousands of dollars to help keep children safe. Under HB 2343, the school divisions awarded grants must provide a local match of 25 percent of the grant amount.
Virginia Beach — $100,000
Chesapeake — $100,000
Hampton — $100,000
Suffolk — $100,000
Portsmouth — $99,960
Southampton County — $96,436
Isle of Wight County — $86,205
Gloucester County — $77,259
Newport News — $72,658
Williamsburg-James City County — $57,680
Surry County — $40,000
Franklin — $36,800
Hampton City Schools' spokesperson Carolyn Bowers said the original security grant request included funding the following: Magnetic door lock strikes, video intercom monitoring system, secure kiosk that tracks visitors, students and faculty and includes instant sex offender checks, and changing the local analog camera system to a digital and web-based system.
Officials with Chesapeake Public Schools said the $100,000 grant will be used primarily to upgrade and increase the surveillance cameras for Great Bridge High, Greenbrier Middle, Hickory Middle and Hugo A. Owens Middle schools.
Newport News will use the security grant to fund intercom buzzer systems and remote door lock systems for all elementary schools and early childhood centers. “The grant will also fund a web-based camera for the main entrance at our elementary schools and early childhood centers that don’t yet have a camera.” Michelle Price wrote.
Williamsburg schools will use the money for card-swipe systems at Jamestown High and Toano Middle.
“The funds will enable us to put these systems in four schools this year. We have budgeted for two installations each year until all schools have the systems. Installation of card swipe systems eliminate the need for keys and give staff members access to multiple locked doors during the school day. With these systems, we also are able to track who is entering a building,” school spokesperson Betsy Overkamp Smith wrote.
In Suffolk, $2,200 for each of the 12 elementary schools and $4,400 for each of the 4 middle schools to replace outdated portable walkie talkie radios. Lakeland High School will receive $56,000 of the state grant to replace the surveillance system. However, the total cost of LHS system is $143,958. “SPS is adding $25,000 for the 25% match as well as another $67,958 -- total of $87,958 -- to complete this security upgrade project.” School spokesperson Bethanne Bradshaw also explained the surveillance system at King's Fork High is currently being upgrade with local funds. The system at Nansemond River High is the next priority for upgrade.
In Isle of Wight, the funds will mainly be used to update our video monitoring systems, locks at building rear entries and electronic access controls, said spokeswoman Kenita D. Bowers.
Money going to Va. Beach will be spent at Kempsville High School to install electronic access control and integrae it with the closed circuit television camera and intrusion alarm systems. That will give card access to staff members, keep doors locked more throughout the day and limits access to the doors.
"Kempsville High is the oldest building currently in need of an upgrade and that’s how it was chosen. Security was not lacking at the school, but technology is constantly changing and this grant allows us to put the most current technology available at Kempsville," explained spokeswoman Lauren Wicks.
Other school districts have not responded on how the money will be spent:
Chesapeake will divide the grant between Great Bridge High, Greenbrier Middle, Hickory Middle and Hugo A. Owens Middle.
Franklin schools is investing in Franklin High and J. P. King, Jr. Middle.
Gloucester County will spend the grant at Achilles Elementary, Botetourt Elementary and Gloucester High School.
In Hampton, the division is splitting the money between many schools: A.W.E. Bassett Elementary, Aberdeen Elementary, Alfred S. Forrest Elementary, Armstrong Elementary, Barron Elementary, Benjamin Symns Middle, Bethel High, Booker Elementary, C. Alton Lindsay Middle, Captain John Smith Elementary, Cesar Tarrant Elementary, Christopher C. Kraft Elementary, Francis Asbury Elementary, Francis W. Jones Middle, George P. Phenix School, Hampton High, Hunter B. Andrews, Jane H. Bryan Elementary, Jefferson Davis Middle, John B. Cary Elementary, John Tyler Elementary, Kecoughtan High, Luther W. Machen Elementary, Paul Burbank Elementary, Phillips Elementary, Phoebus High, Samuel P. Langley Elementary, Thomas Eaton Middle, Tucker-Capps Elementary and William Mason Cooper Elementary.
Isle of Wight County will invest in Carrsville Elementary, Hardy Elementary, Smithfield High, Westside Elementary and Windsor High.
Norfolk is using the $75,974 for Azalea Gardens Middle, Bayview Elementary, Booker T. Washington High, Fairlawn Elementary, Ghent Elementary, Granby Elementary, Jacox Elementary, Lindenwood Elementary, Little Creek Elementary, Northside Middle, Norview Elementary, Suburban Park Elementary, Willard Model Elementary and Willoughby Elementary.
Portsmouth is spending $99,960 for Brighton Elementary, Churchland Middle, Cradock Middle, Douglass Park Elementary, Emily N. Spong Preschool, John Tyler Elementary, Lakeview Elementary, Mount Hermon Preschool, Park View Elementary, Westhaven Elementary and William E. Waters Middle
Surry County will put all the $40,000 toward Surry County High.