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PASBO SUPPORTS DISTRIBUTION OF $40 MILLION IN SCHOOL SAFETY AND SECURITY GRANT FUNDING FOR 2018-19; URGES CHANGES TO FUNDING PROCESS FOR 2019-20

We applaud the announcement of the $40 million in Part B school safety and security grant funding to school entities announced last week. These are critical funds that are necessary for the safety and security of school students, staff and communities across the state.
 
We know the rollout of any major new initiative brings implementation challenges, particularly an initiative that represents a high priority focus for all schools. Going forward, assuming Governor Wolf and the General Assembly approve funding for the School Safety and Security Grant Program in 2019-20, we urge significant changes in the process used by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) in reviewing and awarding grant funds. 
We applaud the announcement of the $40 million in Part B school safety and security grant funding to school entities announced last week. These are critical funds that are necessary for the safety and security of school students, staff and communities across the state.
 
We know the rollout of any major new initiative brings implementation challenges, particularly an initiative that represents a high priority focus for all schools. Going forward, assuming Governor Wolf and the General Assembly approve funding for the School Safety and Security Grant Program in 2019-20, we urge significant changes in the process used by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) in reviewing and awarding grant funds.
 
The all-or-nothing approach used to review and award Part B funds produced a highly competitive process and resulted in an unfortunate outcome where school safety and security was qualified solely by the strength of a grant application. School and student safety and security is not a competition, and it should not be a luxury; it is a foundational component of the educational process, and it cannot be ranked by the quality of a grant application alone. We don't believe safety and security grant program should create winners and losers.
 
Going forward, we urge PCCD to consider a school entity's financial ability to fund safety and security programs, equipment, training and personnel as part of the grant review process. The process should acknowledge the obvious fiscal disparity that exists across the commonwealth and take into account the resources available to each eligible school entity. We know resources are not equally available, and grants should be awarded accordingly.
 
We should also improve the grant process to expedite the review and rewarding of funds to ensure that school entities have sufficient time to use funds within a fiscal year and to appropriately build budgets that plan for future use of safety and security funding. School entities shouldn't have to wait to take steps to protect students and staff or implement valuable student support programs pending lengthy grant approvals.
 
We thank PCCD and the members of the School Safety and Security Committee for their efforts not only to distribute School Safety and Security Grant Program funds to school entities this year, but to implement the many other critical provisions of Act 44 of 2018. With school safety and security improvement the goal for every school entity across the commonwealth, we are hopeful we can learn from the process and build on the success of the grant program this year to make 2019-20 even more effective in ensuring that our students, staff and schools are safe and secure.
 

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