State Representatives Rosemary Brown (R-189), Maureen Madden (D-115) and Jack Rader (R-176) announced Wednesday that Monroe County school districts will receive over $1 million in grants to strengthen security and safety for students.
Legislators said that the School Safety and Security Committee awarded $53.7 million in competitive and meritorious grants to 970 public schools across the state, including Monroe’s four districts, in addition to intermediate units, vocational-technical schools and charter schools.
The 17-member School Safety and Security Committee, operating within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, was created as part of Act 44 of 2018, a comprehensive school safety law. One of the committee’s duties is to help distribute both meritorious and competitive grants.
“Our children’s safety has always been a top priority,” Brown said. “It is my duty as both a mother and a legislator to stand up for student safety initiatives that will not only protect students from danger but also keep parents’ minds at ease as they put their children’s lives and their trust in their local schools. These funds will help accomplish that.”
Each district that applied for the meritorious grants was guaranteed $45,000, while East Stroudsburg and Pocono Mountain pursued additional competitive grants.
East Stroudsburg Area School District is set to receive $494,969, Pocono Mountain will see $471,240, and Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg will get $45,000 each.
“Our schools must be safe places to learn and where students can feel comfortable and supported, so these grants are designed to meet those needs and challenges within the school districts,” Madden said.
East Stroudsburg’s award money will go toward security cameras, stop-arm bus cameras, and professional development projects focused on school safety for staff and school officers. East Stroudsburg will also utilize some of the funding for a public awareness campaign to inform residents of the stop-arm bus cameras.
Pocono Mountain’s grants will help cover the costs for four behavioral and health sciences specialists, a trauma-informed project coordinator, a school safety officer, security planning and equipment expenses.
Stroudsburg plans to utilize their funding for new cameras and lighting for the junior high and high school, the stadium, school transportation, and other select schools.
“We are appreciative of the funding as it will help us in further securing our facilities,” Curry said.
READ MORE: Safe2Say a key resource for Monroe County schools
Pleasant Valley’s funding will go toward assessments, a school safety officer, security planning and equipment expenses.
Though the Monroe County school districts have not had any serious issues with security, the potential for threats is ever present, motivating districts to amp up school safety by hiring more security officers, purchasing more safety equipment, and providing additional training for staff.
The arrival of the grant funding comes just on the heels of a discredited threat to the Stroudsburg Area School District via a social media post over the weekend of Feb. 8 and 9. A tip indicated that someone intended to harm students over a bullying situation, though an investigation by Stroudsburg Area Regional Police Department revealed that the supposed threat was baseless.
Mountie Nation: please see the update below regarding the social media threat from earlier this week. Thanks for your support! Enjoy Presidents Weekend. pic.twitter.com/HCGALNeU1f— Dr. Cosmas Curry (@Cosmas_Curry) February 13, 2020
Pocono Mountain West students reported in Oct. 2019 that a Snapchat post referenced a potential school shooting, warning students not to attend the next day.
East Stroudsburg Area High School South saw a concerning message written on a bathroom wall, referencing that an unknown individual was “planning to shoot up the school Nov. 9” in 2018.
Pleasant Valley has seen a few online threats over the recent past, including at least one incident that police considered legitimate enough to warrant arresting a student in April 2018.
Local representatives and educators are hoping that the grant funding will further strengthen security measures in order to ensure the safety of students and staff.
“We in the General Assembly have made it a priority to ensure our schools provide a safe and secure learning environment for student, faculty and staff,” Rader said. “No parent should have to worry about their children’s safety when they send them off to school.”