Five Maine school districts are receiving a total of $1.25 million in federal funding to pay for school security upgrades.

“Quite frankly within our budgets we can’t afford to buy the materials we really need to keep our schools safe and our children safe,” said William Braun, superintendent of schools in Lee-based School Administrative District 30. “In order to do that we started looking around for opportunities to provide those materials for our schools to keep them safe.”

The district is receiving $181,767 from the U.S. Department of Justice for safety upgrades that include door locks, an indoor/outdoor camera system and hiring a school security officer that will be shared with two other districts.

The funds are among more than $85.3 million being awarded to schools across the country under the STOP School Violence Act, which authorizes grants to improve threat assessments, train students and faculty to provide tips and leads, and prepare law enforcement officers and emergency professionals to respond to school shootings and other violent incidents.

Other Maine school districts receiving funds include:

  • School Administrative District 15 (Gray-New Gloucester), $494,850
  • Regional School Unit 52 (Turner, Greene, Leeds), $324,108
  • Sanford School Department, $216,221
  • Regional School Unit 38 (Maranacook Area Schools), $40,500

In Gray-based SAD 15, Superintendent Craig King said the money will pay for upgrading doors and windows; electronic access controls such as key cards and electronic locks; community-wide awareness training in school safety and upgrades to communication systems.

Kim Brandt, superintendent of Turner-based RSU 52, said funds awarded to that district will go to similar investments including digital radios for school buses, the installation of cameras in five of six schools and a lockdown alarm system.

“Like many school districts we don’t have a ton of staff to do grant writing,” Brandt said. “However, we knew we needed the interior cameras for safety. We wanted more lighting and cameras and we knew we needed these things. Instead of phasing them in through the budget over a number of years we thought if we could apply for this it would be fantastic.”

Braun, the superintendent in SAD 30, said there wasn’t a particular incident that motivated the district to apply for the federal funds.

“It’s just all the national news (around school violence) and national incidents,” he said. “We are located in a rural place and the only police I have available here in SAD 30 are either the county or state police. If we have an event it could be half an hour or longer before anyone shows up.

“Our hope is this is preventative. It’s kind of like, do you fix something or wait for a fire to happen so you have to put it out? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

 


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