169 Public School Buildings In 36 Communities Across State Will Benefit
September 19, 2013
Prompted by the Newtown school massacre, the state will spend $5 million to improve security at 169 public school buildings in 36 communities across Connecticut.
The money, approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, will be used for improvements that include bullet-proof glass, panic alarms, surveillance cameras, buzzer and card-entry systems, and electric locks.
The state money is set aside only for building improvements and cannot be used to pay security guards for school systems, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
Malloy announced the grants Wednesday, saying the money will go to schools from Greenwich to Killingly.
Overall, the state received 111 applications for 604 school buildings, but could not fund all of the requests, officials said.
Eventually, the state is expected to spend $21 million by next year to improve security in school buildings, and Wednesday's announcement marks only the first round.
The greatest number of improvements in this initial funding will be in Bridgeport, where 23 schools will be upgraded. The total includes 17 schools in East Hartford, 14 in Norwalk, nine each in Enfield and New Britain, and one in Greenwich.
The money will also fund upgrades at four schools in Avon, two in Hartford, three in Rocky Hill, six in Vernon, and one in Wethersfield.
In a joint partnership with municipalities, the state will award $5 million, and cities and towns will spend an additional $4 million.
In wealthier communities, the town will put up more money than the state. For example, Westport will spend $1 million on eight schools in return for $261,000 in state assistance.
"We will never be able to prevent every random act, but we can take the steps necessary to make sure that our children and our teachers are as safe as possible," Malloy said. "This funding allows districts with the most need to implement security measures that will make schools safer."
Citing an exemption under the state's Freedom of Information laws, officials would not release the names of the individual schools for fear that potential perpetrators would learn which schools are vulnerable. Some of the security improvements have already been completed since the $5 million includes reimbursements for previous work.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and others noted the money was set aside in the gun-control bill passed by the state legislature and signed by Malloy.
"We can and must do more to ensure our schools are as safe as they can be, but that burden cannot rest solely with our state and local districts," Blumenthal said. "The federal government has an obligation to act, which is why I have co-sponsored the Schools and Campus Safety Enhancement Act to provide $40 million in annual grants over the next decade for safety-related capital improvements, training and security assessments."
"While the bill received broad bipartisan support, progress has been stalled by a minority in Congress unwilling to listen to the common sense needs and wishes of the American public," Blumenthal said. "It is time for Congress to learn from the bipartisan successes of Connecticut and take action on comprehensive gun violence reform now."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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