The Naugatuck School District is one of 36 in Connecticut to receive state grant money for security upgrades at school buildings.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office announced Wednesday that Naugatuck will receive $463,314 to offset the cost associated with school infrastructure upgrades to enhance safety. Those upgrades are being made in the wake December's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
All told, the state awarded $5 million to be used for safety enhancements in 169 schools across Connecticut (scroll down to see a full list of school districts that received money). This money is the first round of a competitive state grant program for school security, which is part of the Gun Violence and Children’s Safety Act, according to a news release from the governor.
“After the horrific events on Dec. 14, Connecticut cities and towns moved swiftly to improve security infrastructures at schools in need,” Malloy states in the release. “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. This funding allows districts with the most need to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”
Naugatuck has already set aside $200,000 in this year’s budget for safety upgrades at three buildings. The state grant money will offset that portion, plus give additional revenue for more safety measures. The state grant application stipulated that municipalities must set aside their own money in order to be eligible for the state funds.
In Naugatuck, the money will go toward security enhancements at Andrew Avenue, Hop Brook and Maple Hill elementary schools. Eventually, Naugatuck wants to improve security at all schools and will continue to apply for more grant funding to make that happen.
Some of the security upgrades will include:
- Replacing outside access doors and putting a coating on glass that prevents the door from shattering easily; Naugatuck Controller and School Business Manager Bob Butler described it is a sort of bullet resistant glass.
- Doorknobs that would enable teachers to remain inside and still lock their doors to prevent intruders from stepping inside.
- Replacing video systems so that all hallways and doorways are covered by surveillance.
The grant application required Naugatuck to complete a detailed assessment of the safety needs of the district. That report, which is still a working document and is not being made available to the public at this point, is being completed by Butler, Facilities Manager Mike Lynch and Police Sgt. Derek Vostinek. They have used a safety grading system approved by the Department of Homeland Security, which the grant required.
Butler, who wrote the grant application, said he’s thrilled that Naugatuck has received the money.
“We will continue to apply for any types of grants that are offered for school security,” he said.
More about the state's competitive grant program for school security from the governor's office:
The grant awards, administered by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) in consultation with the Department of Education and the Department of Construction Services (DCS), were based on a school security assessment survey conducted by each local school district that applied. Each municipality will be reimbursed between 20 and 80 percent according to town wealth, as defined in subdivision (26) of section 10-262f of the Connecticut General Statutes. Funds from municipalities, which total $3,921,435, will be matched with nearly $5 million in state funding for an overall $8,911,853 investment in school security among 169 schools.
"In the wake of the events at Sandy Hook last year, many districts across Connecticut are working to strengthen the safety and security of school buildings and grounds this year. And, at the same time, these districts are striving to maintain warm, welcoming learning environments for our students. The grants awarded today will help our schools accomplish these two essential goals,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “We are grateful to Governor Malloy, the General Assembly, and our partner state agencies for investing in safe and welcoming learning environments for our young people.”
School districts receiving awards are: Avon, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, Enfield, Greenwich, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Ledyard, Mansfield, Meriden, Middletown, Montville, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Hartford, North Haven, Norwalk, Plymouth, Portland, Regional School District No. 6 (Warren, Morris and Goshen), Regional School District No. 14 (Woodbury and Bethlehem), Rocky Hill, Shelton, Southington, Stamford, Sterling, Stratford, Vernon, West Haven, Westport, Wethersfield, and Winchester.
“Public Safety is a core function of our government, especially when it comes to our children’s security,” DESPP Deputy Commissioner William Shea said. “These funds show the commitment and investment Governor Malloy has made to the safety of our children and educators and is another vital step in improving the security infrastructure of our schools.”
DESPP received 111 applications for proposed infrastructure projects in 604 school buildings, consisting of the installation of surveillance cameras, bullet proof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms. A future round of funding will be announced soon.
“We all wish that this program was not needed, but unfortunately we must adapt to the new reality that Sandy Hook tragically brought to our state,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said. “This funding will not only make our schools more secure, but will give us the peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to live up to our obligation to provide a safe learning environment for our children.”