For Second Year, PA Gives Out School Safety Funds; Demand Remains Strong

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STATE COLLEGE, PA (WPSU) – For a second year, Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Committee has approved more than $60 million in school safety funding, which was announced Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency said demands for funding to improve safety in Pennsylvania schools remained strong.

Emma Lee / WHYY FILE PHOTO: Philadelphia School District headquarters at Broad and Spring Garden streets.

PCCD received a total of 970 applications during this round of funding, and the total cost of all those projects was $134.5 million.

More than $53 million dollars will be spread out among nearly all of Pennsylvania’s school districts. An additional $7.5 million dollars will go to programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters for violence prevention work.

Overwhelmingly, schools are asking for grants to address mental health needs and to strengthen security measures.

State Senator Wayne Langerholc, R-Bedford, is on the committee that approves the funding and said the main areas of focus have been consistent since the legislation that created the funding was enacted in 2018.

“There needs to be more mental health professionals, more school counselors, more guidance counselors, things that kind of treat the root cause of the problem,” Langerholc said.

In Blair County, Williamsburg Community School District received $332,617, which was approved for security planning and security related purchases as well as training and hiring counselors. Centre County’s Youth Service Bureau received $298,835 for a community violence prevention project.

Most school districts that applied got a meritorious grant, ranging from $25,000 to $45,000 depending on the school’s population, according to Langerholc.

A complete list of grant recipients can be found online.

Governor Tom Wolf is proposing to cut the funding next year from $60 million to $15 million. Wolf’s administration said past funding means many safety upgrades have already been completed. But, Senate Republicans have vowed to make maintaining the funding a priority.

“As these grants are released we are in the middle of our review of the governor’s proposed budget that includes cutting school safety funding by $45 million,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said in a statement. “We restored that cut last year and vow to take steps to ensure that schools have access to the funds they need to protect our children.”