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King George schools request grant

To improve security at four King George County schools, Superintendent Robert Benson has applied for a $100,000 state grant.

The grant falls under the Public School Security Equipment Grant Act of 2013, which was passed to help divisions across the commonwealth purchase and install security equipment.

School divisions may request up to $100,000. A local match must cover 25 percent of the awarded amount, so if successful, Benson would need another $25,000 in matching money from the county.

In addition, because the cost of the overall project is estimated at $250,000, another $125,000 would be needed from the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.

The money would pay for security software, access cards for employees, card readers for entrances and exits, locks, wiring, other hardware and installation.

It would also allow the division to explore renovations to schools that would funnel visitors through the main office.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, with need being a key factor. For instance, the process favors schools where little to no security exists or where audits have recommended equipment be installed.

Benson expects to hear whether King George schools have been awarded the grant in mid-September.

Four schools are included in the grant application: King George Middle, and King George, Potomac and Sealston elementary schools.

Together, those schools have a projected 2013–14 enrollment of 2,865 students.

King George High School does not need security upgrades, according to Benson. The school currently has an entry system that funnels visitors through the office instead of allowing them into the main school area.

At other schools in the district, greeters watch the main entrance, check in visitors and direct them to the main office.

Benson said the grant fits well with the needs identified in a security study carried out in late winter by school officials and the King George Sheriff’s Office.

Among their recommendations were key card access, video surveillance of doors, remote door-locking capability, additional classroom locks, and renovated thresholds and entrances.

Benson said the King George Board of Supervisors was supportive of the grant application when he presented it to them in early August.

“I think any time you are able to increase security of a building, it is a good idea,” Benson said. “These are obvious upgrades that will provide peace of mind to parents and students.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

ESTIMATED SECURITY COST BY SCHOOL

King George Middle: $81,700

King George Elementary: $61,200

Potomac Elementary: $57,600

Sealston Elementary: $49,500

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