(Delmarva Now) -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants to protect students and teachers in 104 school divisions and three regional educational programs, including Accomack and Northampton school districts.
The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades in 545 schools and other instructional facilities, according to a news release. The schools include three in Northampton County and one in Accomack County.
Accomack County Public Schools was awarded $12,352 for Metompkin Elementary School.
Northampton County Public Schools was awarded a total of $8,160 for Kiptopeke Elementary School, Northampton High School and Occohannock Elementary School.
Northampton's grant award will pay to provide exterior numbering systems for school buildings to assist emergency responders, said Eddie Lawrence, Northampton County Public Schools superintendent.
"School safety is imperative to providing an environment where students can learn, grow and thrive,” McAuliffe said, adding, “These grants will provide our school administrators with the resources they need to keep their students and teachers safe so they can concentrate on providing a world class education and preparing for success in the new Virginia economy.”
The School Security Equipment Grants program was established by the 2013 General Assembly in the aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
The criteria for making the awards — developed by the Virginia Department of Education and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services — gives priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.
This fifth round of awards brings the total number of school security projects receiving state funding through the program to 2,327.
“These grants will allow for safety enhancements and systems that will help schools meet the basic expectation that public schools are safe environments where all students can focus on learning,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said.
School divisions and regional educational programs were invited in June to apply for the 2017 grants. The largest grant a school division may receive under the program is $100,000. A local match of 25 percent is required of most divisions.