This week it was announced that 239 Vermont schools were awarded school safety grants totaling $4 million that are aimed at improving infrastructure to enhance school safety. That’s sad, sobering and unfortunately necessary and important.
The grants are part of a $5 million funding package that passed the legislature with bipartisan support this year. In addition to the individual school grants, $1 million is earmarked for planning and training around safety exercises.
Locally, Waitsfield Elementary School received a $20,281 grant. Thatcher Brook Primary School received a grant of $15,056. Warren Elementary School received a $23,737 grant. Fayston Elementary School received a grant of $5,614 and Moretown Elementary School received a grant of $4,572.
Harwood Union High School got a $21,000 grant while Crossett Brook Middle School received a grant of $24,942.
Schools were eligible for up to $25,000 with a 25 percent local match. The funds will be distributed at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
There’s no clear reason given for the large range in the amount of grant money that each local school received and with one consolidated school district the matching share will be funded by all taxpayers.
The process for determining what amounts schools received came after a March statewide assessment that helped state and officials identify needs and priorities.
A 12-member committee of school administrators, emergency responders and representatives from the state prioritized a list of measures schools could take to make facilities more secure and used the list as the basis for scoring applications and for making award recommendations to the Department of Public Safety.
No one likes to think about the possibility of violence at any of our local schools, or at any schools in Vermont or elsewhere. But it is prudent to make plans for and fund improvements to our school buildings and infrastructure. Burying our collective heads in the sand won’t do anything to keep children safe.
It’s painful but necessary that we train school staff on how to react to the threat of violence and it’s painful but necessary and appropriate that we spend taxpayer money doing so.