Grant to help with Shelton school security upgrades

Shelton will receive a $111,328 state grant to help make school security improvements. The city will have to match that amount with $197,317 to pay for $308,645 in upgrades at six schools.

“We’ve done a lot to improve security in the schools,” School Supt. Freeman Burr said.

Many of the security enhancements being made in Shelton educational buildings are ongoing.

As of early this week, Burr was still waiting for official notification of the grant award and exactly what projects would be funded with the state dollars.

The school district had applied for slightly more than the allocated amount, and Burr said information still is being provided to the state on the projects.

The funds should help pay for improving security cameras at Shelton High, Shelton Intermediate and Perry Hill schools; installing a generator and needed cooling for the districtwide computer server hub at Shelton High; purchasing radio equipment or walkie-talkies at Perry Hill and other schools to enhance communication among personnel inside and outside the schools; and finalizing installment of panic buttons at schools that connect directly to police and other emergency personnel.

Post-Newtown focus

The city has been pursuing school security enhancements since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012 that left 20 students and six educators dead.

Some upgrades have been completed, some are ongoing, and others are in the planning stages. “We’ve made a great start but there are still some hurdles to get over, such as the three-school project,” Burr said.

The three-school project would involve improving entryways, door locks and windows at three elementary schools that have haven’t been modernized in recent years — Long Hill, Mohegan and Elizabeth Shelton.

At times, some parents have complained the security upgrades are not being made fast enough.

Reimbursement rate

The city has a reimbursement rate of 36% from the state for the projects under the School Security Grant Program. That rate is determined by the city’s wealth rating, with richer towns receiving a smaller reimbursement than poor communities.

Burr said Mayor Mark Lauretti was briefed on the school system’s application for the new grant. The city’s portion of matching funds is likely to come from the city budget and not the Board of Education budget.

In late 2013, the Shelton public school system was awarded $168,537 from the state to make school security improvements. The city matched that with almost $299,000 to fund $467,000 in upgrades.

Statewide help

The newest round in the state grant program will distribute almost $22 million for projects at 445 public and private schools in Connecticut, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“These additional funds will allow us to continue to get resources out to communities that need to modernize their school security infrastructure to keep students safe,” Malloy said.

The state distributed $21 million for similar projects in 2013, including the earlier funds sent to Shelton.

The matching-grant award program is administered by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The funds may be used for such work as surveillance cameras, penetration-resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid-core doors, double-door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry-door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms, real-time communication systems, and multimedia sharing infrastructure.