The notification came in just before Tuesday's Board of Education meeting that the district's application for the grant "was approved in the amount of $44,000," Avon Superintendent Gary Mala said.
"That's good news," Mala said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy officially announced the grant recipients Wednesday.
“After the horrific events on December 14th, Connecticut cities and towns moved swiftly to improve security infrastructures at schools in need,” Malloy said. “We will never be able to prevent every random act, but we can take the steps necessary to make sure that our children and our teachers are as safe as possible. This funding allows districts with the most need to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”
The $44,029 grant Avon will receive amounts to roughly 15 percent of its $240,000 request to cover school security upgrades, according to Mala.
"Not all of it though is eligible under the grant," he said.
Over the past few weeks, new video cameras have been installed at Avon schools with feeds that link to the Avon Police Department, according to John Spang, assistant superintendent for finance and operations. The department hasn't started using the technology yet, but they have it, Spang said.
All of the schools also have door alarms. Staff members are expected to get two-way radios on Friday. The schools are also waiting on "annunciator panels" that make it known if a door to the outside is opened.
A purchase order has been issued for new classroom locks, which will be installed by a local company. The new locks, which allow teachers to lock the door from the inside are scheduled to be in place by the first week in October. Previously, teachers could only lock the doors from the outside. Door handles will also have a keyholes on the outside so that doors can be unlocked from the outside if an intruder were to get into a classroom and lock the door.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) will administer the grant in collaboration with the state's Department of Education (SDE) and the Department of Construction Services (DCS), according to a press release from Malloy's office.
“Public Safety is a core function of our government, especially when it comes to our children’s security,” DESPP Deputy Commissioner William Shea said. “These funds show the commitment and investment Governor Malloy has made to the safety of our children and educators and is another vital step in improving the security infrastructure of our schools.
The grant represents the "first round of the Competitive Grant Program for school security" as part of the "Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act," the press release states.
“We all wish that this program was not needed, but unfortunately we must adapt to the new reality that Sandy Hook tragically brought to our state,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said in a statement. “This funding will not only make our schools more secure, but will give us the peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to live up to our obligation to provide a safe learning environment for our children.”The state is offering $5 million in funding total for school security upgrades in Connecticut schools through the grant and schools benefitting from the grant are spending $3,921,435 on school security.
"In the wake of the events at Sandy Hook last year, many districts across Connecticut are working to strengthen the safety and security of school buildings and grounds this year. And, at the same time, these districts are striving to maintain warm, welcoming learning environments for our students. The grants awarded today will help our schools accomplish these two essential goals,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “We are grateful to Governor Malloy, the General Assembly, and our partner state agencies for investing in safe and welcoming learning environments for our young people.”
There were 111 applications across the state for the grant "for proposed infrastructure projects in 604 school buildings," seeking funding assistance for "installation of surveillance cameras, bullet proof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms," the press release stated.
The state is planning another round of funding for school security upgrades and the Governor's Office said that the information will be announced in the near future.