Grants for Guards Open to Public and Private Schools

Jul 9, 2013

Private schools will be able to compete for state grants to pay for armed security guards in Pennsylvania under a law recently signed by the governor.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati introduced the proposal in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. His spokesman, Drew Crompton, said the state already gives money to private schools, so allowing them to compete for the grants isn't so far removed from current practice.

"Our kids are needing protection regardless of what school they pick," Crompton said. "And when you have a substantial increase in the funding, like we have had this year and hopefully will continue to have, we thought it was an issue of fairness."

In the past, the program had half a million dollars to dole out to schools for violence prevention efforts. Now, it'll have $8.5 million at its disposal, with 60 percent of the money earmarked for armed guards, also known as school resource officers.

Those are the grants private schools will be able to apply for — they are not eligible for the grants targeted at other security measures, like building improvements, cameras, metal detectors or emergency plans.

Pennsylvania State Education Association, the commonwealth's largest teacher's union, supports the bill.

"Our primary concern is the safety of Pennsylvania students regardless of what kind of school they attend," said PSEA spokesman David Broderic.