Northampton Press

Saturday, October 20, 2018

NASD gets school security grants

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

$44,000 funding will be used for training, walkie-talkies, lockdown doors

Northampton Area School District has received two grants totaling nearly $44,000 — and is applying for a third — to improve school security.

The grants are one aspect of the NASD administration’s efforts to enhance safety in school buildings and campuses for faculty, students and families.

The measures include school-entrance security improvements, equipment for security personnel and possible additional district police, with the goal of having an officer at each school.

The grants and school-safety measures were discussed at the Oct. 8 NASD Board of Education meeting.

In addition to the grants, the NASD assistant superintendent held a meeting on school safety and will attend a state conference on the matter.

NASD received two grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE): $24,330, for equipment, and $19,404, for programs.

The district is also applying for an Act 44 grant for security and safety measures. Up to $6 million per district is available, but NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik emphasized the grants are competitive and not guaranteed.

In June, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018 into law, creating a School Safety and Security Committee in the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Kovalchik credited Dr. Kathleen E. Ott, NASD director of data, grants and special programs, for obtaining the PDE grants. He said Ott was working late Oct. 8 on the Act 44 grant application, the deadline for which is Oct. 12.

After the Oct. 8 school board meeting, Kovalchik said the two grants, totaling $43,734, would fund Student Assistance Program training of 40 to 50 district elementary school teachers; 30 walkie-talkies to be used by security guards, hall monitors, cafeteria workers and physical education instructors; and lockdown doors for entrance areas at five district schools.

The district has 10 security guards, including two recently hired guards.

There are two district police officers. Plans are to hire four more.

The NASD Board of Education voted unanimously 9-0 at the Oct. 8 meeting to approve NASD Assistant Superintendent Robert J. Steckel Jr. to attend the Pennsylvania School Boards Association School Safety and Security Exchange, Nov. 8 and 9, Hershey Lodge, at an estimated cost to the district of $304.30.

Steckel, NASD safety and security coordinator, reported to the board about a recent School Community Safety Team meeting held Oct. 3 in the administration building board room, attended by 30, including officials from boroughs, townships and law enforcement and emergency medical services groups in the district.

“It was very well done and very educational,” said school board Vice President Chuck Frantz, who attended the safety team meeting.

“Safety is one of our concerns, and we do everything to make our schools safe,” school board President David Gogel said.

Steckel said community meetings will alternate with district safety meetings. The community meetings provide feedback concerning district safety efforts.

“It’s a community effort,” Steckel said after the Oct. 8 school board meeting. “It’s not just the teachers and administrators. We can take back to the committee any safety issues.”