Security upgrade at JYMS

Published 10:19 pm Thursday, October 2, 2014

The security camera system at John Yeates Middle School will be updated with a state grant and some local money, school district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw says.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced a statewide total of $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants, toward updating infrastructure in 373 schools and other buildings.

Suffolk Public Schools received $72,090 for the update at John Yeates. Bradshaw stated the total going toward the project would be about $86,500 after the district agreed to a 20-percent match of local funds.

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“In 2013-14, grant funds also helped to replace the security systems at Lakeland High, King’s Fork High, King’s Fork Middle, Forest Glen Middle and Turlington Woods School,” Bradshaw stated.

“The next priority is Nansemond River High, which already has some 2014-15 operating funds earmarked for the upgrade. Funding for the John F. Kennedy Middle upgrade has not yet been identified.”

The Virginia Department of Education and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services developed the criteria for the grants.

Priority was given to schools with “the greatest need for modern security equipment, relatively high numbers of offenses, and equipment needs identified by a school security audit,” according to the Governor’s Office.

“Investing in security improvement that will protect our children while they are in school is critical towards building a new Virginia economy where students can learn and succeed,” McAuliffe stated.

“These grants will result in safer environments for teaching and learning for thousands of students and educators.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples stated that schools need to plan for “a wide range of scenarios,” including armed intruders, natural disasters and “the accidents that inevitably occur in our safest schools.”

“The enhancements and systems supported by this grant program will help our schools meet this challenge and will result in safer environments for students and staff.”

The 2013 General Assembly introduced the grants in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

The first round of grants, in 2013, assisted in beefing up security at 456 schools and other educational facilities.

Metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems and direct communications links between schools and law enforcement are among other security upgrades supported around the state under the grants.