Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs today announced that the county’s groundbreaking initiative to enhance the safety and security of all twenty-one public high schools reached a major milestone this evening, as the Freeholder Board voted unanimously to award a $1.2 million grant to the Pemberton Township School District. The district is the first to receive a grant through the county’s innovative program, which was launched only four short months ago.
“Earlier this year I stood before our superintendents, teachers, parents and students and said the county is here to help make their school buildings safer and more secure, and to do it quickly – I am pleased now to begin to deliver on that promise by awarding the first of many grants,” said Freeholder Director Gibbs. “We encourage all of our other public high schools to follow Pemberton’s lead and promptly submit their applications so that we can timely provide security measures for our schools and local property tax relief for our residents.”
In June, Freeholder Director Gibbs introduced the county’s $20 million grant program during a press conference at the Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly. The voluntary program requires each participating school district to make grant applications to the county and agree to a security evaluation by a highly-qualified architectural firm.
Before the end of the summer, all twenty-one public high schools agreed to participate in the program and had their evaluations completed for possible safety and security upgrades. The architectural firm’s written reports and county grant application paperwork were received by every school at the same time in September. Schools may apply for some or all of the security recommendations.
The county has committed to funding capital enhancements identified in the evaluations, which may include things like: new entrance vestibules, emergency notification systems, classroom door locks, portable screening devices, panic alarms, entry buzzers, and security cameras, among others. The program does not dictate or mandate safety procedures, staff guidelines or other considerations best left up to the individual school districts.
“I believe it is my responsibility to do everything that can be done to make our teachers, students and staff safe from awful acts of violence,” said Pemberton Township Superintendent of Schools Tony Trongone. “From day one, Director Gibbs has been a leader on school security and this grant validates her willingness to help. I am proud to call her a partner and I look forward to implementing our security projects.”
Freeholder Director Gibbs is scheduled to present a ceremonial check to Superintendent Trongone at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at the Pemberton Township High School.
The Pemberton Township School District was the first district to submit a proposal for grant funding. The county is accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no deadline to apply.