County Announces Plan for $20 Million School Security Grant
Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs announced a plan for a $20-million dollar grant, which is funded by County tax-dollars, to help improve safety at Burlington County’s 21 High Schools.
During the news conference at Rancoacas Valley High School, Freeholder Gibbs said if the grant is approved, schools could see improvements over the summer. Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs says, “We’re streamlining and expediting every part of this process. I don’t want this to get dragged down in bureaucracy. I want to move fast with this, it’s too important.”
The grant program is voluntary, but there are requirements if they want to leverage part of the $20-million for security upgrades. The schools must make grant applications to the county and undergo a security evaluation by an architectural firm. The grant could pay for improvements identified during the evaluation, such as scan card systems, panic alarms, and entry buzzers. Freeholder Gibbs made it clear that the County will not dictate security procedures and requirements, and leave that up to the individual school districts. Freeholder Gibbs says, “The County will seek to expand the program to middle and elementary schools if funding is available after every high school has had the opportunity to apply.”
The $20-million dollar grant is the first of it’s kind in New Jersey and possibly the nation. It’s also half of the County’s capital budget for the year. Freeholder Gibbs says they’re pushing off smaller projects to make the grant possible. She says the grant will have no impact on property taxes. The Board of Chosen Freeholders will vote on the grant Wednesday night at their regular meeting.
Video Source: Burlington County