Governor Tom Corbett and Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) today were joined by lawmakers, law enforcement and Lancaster School District officials at McCaskey East High School to announce the recent award of $6.5 million in school safety grants and to discuss the importance of a safe learning environment for students.
“The protection of students, educators and school employees is of the utmost concern to me, members of the General Assembly, parents and communities across the commonwealth,” Corbett said. “Students who do not feel safe while in school are unable to learn, which will negatively impact their academic performance.”
Through the School Police Officer/Resource Officer grant program, $3.9 million was recently awarded to 81 schools and municipalities across the state for the placement of officers in schools.
Created through legislation authored by Senator Scarnati and signed into law with the 2013-14 state budget by Governor Corbett, the grant program provides funding for schools to enhance security.
“Today we are seeing firsthand the positive impacts that the school safety grant program is having within our communities,” Scarnati said. “Ensuring that students and teachers feel safe in their learning environments is a crucial part of helping children to learn and succeed. Across Pennsylvania, each school’s safety needs are unique, which the program recognizes by allowing local school officials to determine how best to use the grants to protect our children.”
Eligible schools and municipalities received up to $60,000 for a school resource officer and up to $40,000 for a school police officer.
With agreement of a school entity, municipalities awarded a grant are required to assign school resource officers to school buildings located within the municipality.
Through two grant awards, Lancaster School District received $120,000 in funding: $60,000 awarded to the district to contract with the Lancaster City Bureau of Police to fund a school resource officer and $60,000 awarded to Manheim Township Police Department to assign an additional officer to the district’s school resource officer program.
Duties of the district’s school resource officers include:
- Provide law and safety training to school staff, students, parents and school community members, including, school based human service staff from community based organizations.
- Assist other law enforcement officers with outside investigations concerning students attending the school in which the SRO is assigned.
- Act as a liaison with juvenile probation.
- Encourage individual and small group discussions about law enforcement and safety related matters with students, faculty, and parents.
- Provide students with strategies for improvement as related to juvenile delinquency and juvenile delinquency prevention
“McCaskey is an excellent school to showcase, because of the concentration by school leaders on creating a positive and safe learning environment,” said state Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster). “Steps taken to safeguard students, teachers, and school officials against threats from the outside are important measures of responsibility. But the learning process is improved significantly when disruptions and problems within the school are prevented or handled promptly and appropriately.”
Governor Corbett also announced the recent award of $2.6 million to 110 public schools through the Safe Schools Targeted Grant. Funding is used to establish and implement programs to prevent and reduce school violence.
The grant program provides funding for schools to:
- Reduce unnecessary student disciplinary actions and promoting an environment of greater productivity, safety and learning;
- Provide professional development to staff using research-based violence prevention and classroom management programs; and
- Enhance antiviolence efforts between schools and parents, local governments, law enforcement and community organizations.
Each school was awarded up to $25,000 to implement or expand programs that focus on:
- Conflict resolution or dispute management.
- School-wide positive behavior support.
- School-based diversion programs.
- Classroom management.
- Research-based violence prevention programs that address risk factors to reduce incidents of problem behaviors among students.
- Training for Student Assistance Program team members.
- Staff training in the use of positive behavior supports, de-escalation techniques and appropriate responses to student behavior that may require immediate intervention.
In the 2013-14 state budget, funding for the Safe School Initiative was increased from $2 million to $8.5 million for more schools to have access to funding to improve school safety. Governor Corbett’s proposed 2014-15 budget preserves the $6.5 million increase for the Safe School Initiative line item.
“School across the state must be safe havens so students are ready to learn, ready to grow and ready to succeed,” Corbett said. “I remain committed to working with the General Assembly to ensure that all students have access to a safe and secure learning environment.”
Joining Corbett, Scarnati and Smucker today were Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq, Reps. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster) and Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster).