UPPER DARBY >> A state-issued grant for the Upper Darby School District will help with the purchase new surveillance camera equipment.
State Sen. Thomas McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, and Rep. Jamie Santora R-163 of Upper Darby, announced Sunday that a Safe Schools Equipment Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the amount of $20,000 was awarded to the district to procure the resources necessary to create a physical environment that fosters the safety and well-being of students and staff.
“The safety of our students and their ability to learn in a secure environment is paramount. This grant is part of our efforts to invest in our children’s future and create a positive environment for success,” said Santora in a prepared statement.
“A safe school promotes a climate of greater productivity and learning. When students and staff feel safe, they are better able to engage and be productive,” said McGarrigle.
According to district spokeswoman Dana Spino, the grant will be used to purchase 50 surveillance cameras for the district’s two middle schools and 11 elementary-level buildings.
The $20,000 grant will off-set an approximately $110,000 purchase of cameras for Beverly Hills and Drexel Hill middle schools that the school board approved at a special voting meeting on Oct. 24.
Even before the approved camera purchases last month, the security force had expanded throughout the district. In the current year budget the public safety’s department budget increased by $276,000 to add a security officer to five elementary schools and the Kindergarten Center while restructuring two security greeters to officers.
According to safe school reports issued by the state, the Upper Darby School District had an uptick in safety incidents in 2016-17 over 2015-16 from 476 to 638, a record high number since reports were issued starting in 2000. The reports compile information about weapons and drug possessions, violence against others, property and society. Fights were recorded as the most frequent safety infraction with 214 accounts in 2016-17.
No other school districts within McGarrigle and Santora’s municipalities in the country were named as safe school grant recipients.