New School Safety Grant Guidelines, Deadline Announced

HARRISBURG – Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) is encouraging local schools to apply now to receive funding through a new grant program dedicated to improving school safety.

The new School Safety and Security Grant Program will provide $52.5 million in grants to school districts, intermediate units, area vocational-technical schools, charter schools and private residential rehabilitative institutions for a wide variety of projects to improve school safety.

Eligible uses include: hiring school security officers; purchasing security-related technology; completing safety and security assessments; implementing violence prevention curricula; offering counseling services for students; and, other programs and services to protect students.

In order to be eligible to receive a grant through the new program, school entities must submit an application no later than October 12, 2018. Applications may be revised by the applicants at a later date, but applications must be submitted by October 12 in order for a school entity to be considered for a grant.

“All members of the community share a common interest in protecting young people and ensuring our schools are a safe environment for learning,” Langerholc, who serves on the newly created School Safety and Security Committee, said. “I am hopeful that this grant program will help our local school boards, administrators and other personnel identify ways that we can improve school safety and help reduce potential risks to students.”

Guidelines and applications for the new program are available online at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s website at www.pccd.pa.gov under the School Safety and Security heading.

The new program was created as part of a comprehensive school safety bill that was signed into law in June. More information on school safety measures under consideration in the General Assembly is available online at https://www.pasenategop.com/school-safety/.

CONTACT: Gwenn Dando                        (717) 787-5400           gdando@pasen.gov

Superintendents, school officials to attend school safety roundtable discussion next week

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WILLIAMSPORT – Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) will host the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-29), for a roundtable discussion on school safety efforts next week with local school superintendents and administrative staff.

The roundtable discussion will be held on Thursday, August 16 at 1 p.m. at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Bush Campus Center, One College Avenue in Williamsport.

“Enacting common sense legislation to protect students, teachers and school staff has been a priority for the legislature in recent months,” Yaw said. “This roundtable discussion with our superintendents and school officials will provide us with more insight on how best to address challenges and implement solutions that can further safeguard everyone moving forward.”

“I commend Senator Yaw for bringing the Senate Majority Policy Committee to Williamsport to listen to the concerns and suggestions when it comes to how we best protect our children, educators and school staff in north central Pennsylvania,” Argall said. “These conversations are critical because the needs and suggestions vary depending on where in the state you are located. School safety does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. We need to hear from every corner of the state on how we address this critical issue.”

The roundtable discussion will feature a brief summary of recently passed legislation, pending proposals that are awaiting action by the General Assembly and a focus on new ideas and school safety solutions from local participants.

The event is open to the public.

An agenda and more information will be found on Senator Yaw’s website at SenatorGeneYaw.com and on the committee’s website at policy.pasenategop.com.

Contacts:

Rita Zielonis (Yaw)
717.787.3280

Jon Hopcraft (Argall)
717.787.2637

Folmer to host school safety roundtable next week in Lebanon

LEBANON – Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York) and the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks), will hold a public roundtable discussion with key stakeholders on school safety efforts next week.

The roundtable discussion will be held on Wednesday, August 8 at 10 a.m. at Cedar Crest High School in the Large Group Instruction Room, 115 E. Evergreen Road in Lebanon.

“Local input on school safety measures is vital in further deliberating what can be done to help protect students and faculty,” Folmer said. “Different regions of our state have different needs, and hearing from county law enforcement, superintendents and stakeholders within the 48th Senatorial District can help me advocate for their needs at the state level.”

The roundtable will feature a discussion on recently enacted reforms addressing school safety concerns, pending proposals before the state legislature and a focus on new proposals that could be pursued this fall and early next year.

“We realize a one-sized-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to school safety,” Chairman Argall said. “I applaud Senator Folmer for bringing the committee to hear the concerns of central Pennsylvania school districts and stakeholders.”

The public is invited to attend.

More information can be found on the committee’s website at policy.pasenategop.com and on Senator Folmer’s website at SenatorFolmer.com. You can listen to Chairman Argall discuss the importance of the upcoming public roundtable discussion here.

 

Contacts:
Fallon Binner (Folmer)
717.787.5708

Senate Committee to Conduct Roundtable With Local, State Officials on Region’s School Safety Efforts

PETERS TWP – The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks), will hold a roundtable discussion to review school safety efforts with local and state officials on Monday, August 6.

The roundtable will be held at 1 p.m. at the Peters Township Library at 616 E. McMurray Road in McMurray.

The public roundtable comes at the request of Senators Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny/Washington) and Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene), who want to highlight the region’s concerns and challenges when it comes to school safety.

“I want to thank Senators Bartolotta, Regan, Argall, and the Policy Committee for continuing the efforts to address school safety across the Commonwealth. The Senate of Pennsylvania led the push for school safety measures, programs, and funding in this year’s budget, but it was just the start,” said Reschenthaler. “Much more is needed to improve and ensure the safety of our local school districts, and I look forward to discussing new ways to prevent school violence in our community with our teachers, administrators and law enforcement.”

“Protecting students, teachers and school personnel has been a point of emphasis for lawmakers over the past year, and school safety was a major component of this year’s budget as well,” Bartolotta said. “This meeting offers us an opportunity to talk about the unique needs of our local communities and develop strategies to help keep students safe from acts of school violence.”

The roundtable will feature a discussion on recently enacted reforms aimed at addressing school safety concerns, pending proposals before the state legislature and a focus on new proposals that could be pursued this fall and early next year.

In addition to members of the Senate Majority Policy Committee, the roundtable will feature several local school district administrators, statewide association members and other interested stakeholders.

More information can be found on the committee’s website at policy.pasenategop.com, www.SenatorReschenthaler.com or www.SenatorBartolotta.com.  You can listen to Chairman Argall discuss the importance of the upcoming public roundtable discussion here.
Contacts:

Aaron Bonnaure (Reschenthaler)
717.787.5839

Colleen Greer (Bartolotta)
717.787.1463

Jon Hopcraft (Argall)
717.787.2637

Senator Mike Regan Announces School Safety Initiatives as part of State Budget

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HARRISBURG, PA – Today the Senate approved legislation aimed at helping to protect schools and students from violence based on Senator Mike Regan’s (R-31) school safety legislation introduced this week.

“I am proud to announce that many critical components of my School Safety and Security Program legislation, Senate Bill 1211, as well as language from my School Resource Officer proposal, have been incorporated into a comprehensive school safety bill passed as part of the state budget,” said Regan.

Senate Bill 1142, which passed the Senate today with a vote of 47-1, creates multiple programs to improve school safety and security.

“Over the last few months, I have worked with my Senate colleagues and global security experts to develop a proposal that is cost-effective and flexible,” said Regan. “The flexibility of this plan allows for assessments, planning, training, and equipping our schools with the resources they need to ensure our children are safe.”

The legislation also includes a total of $60 million in school safety grant funding.  Each school district that applies is guaranteed a minimum grant of $25,000.

“I commend our Senate leadership for recognizing the importance of not only establishing a school safety plan but also identifying funding within the budget to assist our schools in achieving the necessary security measures to keep their students and staff safe,” said Regan.

Regan added, “This is an excellent start all around.  I intend to use the summer to look at programs and resources to continue increasing safety and security efforts for our schools.”

Senator Regan spoke on the Senate floor and at an evening press conference regarding the passage of SB 1142. Videos of both can be viewed via the following links: Press Conference.

 

Contact: Bruce McLanahan (717-787-8524)

Senate Sends Comprehensive School Safety Measure to Governor’s Desk

 

HARRISBURG — The Senate approved a comprehensive, bipartisan school safety bill today that will dedicate significant new resources to help prevent school violence.

Senate Bill 1142, sponsored by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vince Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13), would create the School Safety and Security Grant Program to distribute $60 million in new school safety funding that was included in the state budget. The new funding is in addition to the $10 million dedicated to an existing grant program created in 2013 by a law authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25).

The two grant programs will provide funding for a variety of measures designed to improve student safety and reduce school violence, including:

  • hiring school police officers, school resource officers, counselors and/or mental health counselors;
  • alternative education and diversion programs;
  • violence prevention initiatives;
  • school safety and emergency preparedness plans;
  • physical upgrades to school buildings and equipment to improve safety.

The legislation would also create a school threat reporting and monitoring system for students, teachers and community residents to anonymously report any unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools. The new Safe2Say Program would be patterned after the Safe2Tell program that was created in Colorado in 1999 after the school shooting at Columbine.

The Attorney General would administer the system and ensure the information regarding potential threats is sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.

The bill was also amended to include a proposal introduced by Senators Wayne Langerholc Jr. (R-35) and Mike Regan (R-31) that would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to develop school safety assessment guidelines. These guidelines would offer a uniform approach to evaluating current security measures in every school building in Pennsylvania.

The newly created School Safety and Security Committee would be made up of various experts in school safety, security and child behavior.

In addition, Senate Bill 1142 would require schools to provide employees with mandatory training on school safety and security. The provision mirrors a proposal introduced by Browne and Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26). Annual safety assessments for schools will also be required – an idea championed by Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-12).

The school safety measures included in Senate Bill 1142 are the first phase of the Senate’s efforts to protect students. Senate leaders have already announced that hearings will be scheduled over the summer to gather input from various stakeholders regarding additional steps that can be taken to improve school safety. 

Senate Bill 1142 was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

 

Contact: Senate Republican Communications (717) 787-6725

Senator Regan, Congressman Barletta to Hold News Conference To Discuss School Safety Efforts

HARRISBURG — Senator Mike Regan (R-31) and Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11) will hold a Capitol news conference at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 1, to discuss state and federal efforts to improve school safety.

The news conference will be held outside the Lieutenant Governor’s office on the upper level of the Main Rotunda of the State Capitol.

The legislators will discuss what has been done to address safety concerns and proposed legislation to address the issue.

The news conference will be streamed live on Senator Regan’s website and on the PA Senate GOP Facebook page.

CONTACT:

Taylor Wamsher (717) 772-2859
Erin Marsicano (717) 787-8524

PLANCON COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS AND REPORT

The PA Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee made several recommendations yesterday (May 23rd) regarding the state’s reimbursement program for school districts for costs associated with construction and reconstruction and lease of public school buildings (commonly known as PlanCon), including shortening the administrative process, recognizing high-performance building standards, creating a maintenance and repair program and streamlining the reimbursement formula, according to statement from the co-chairs of the advisory committee.

The advisory committee was established pursuant to Act 25 of 2016 to review and make recommendations on school district construction and reconstruction to the Governor and the General Assembly and was co-chaired by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, House Education Committee Chairman Stan Saylor and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.

The current PlanCon process includes 11 steps and it has taken an average of 14 months to get through the first seven steps of the process. The advisory committee is recommending to eliminate five of the original administrative steps and combine the remaining six steps into four for the new four-step administration process. The new four-step process would include project justification, construction, project bid awards and project completion.

“Throughout the committee’s review of the PlanCon process, we heard testimony that the formula for reimbursement for school construction projects needed to be simple to understand, and relevant to current school construction costs and the demographics of the Commonwealth’s school districts,” the co-chairs of the committee said. 

The advisory committee then developed a new reimbursement formula. The new formula would be focused on four key factors: per pupil amount, adjustment factor, building capacity and wealth factor. These four factors multiplied together develop the state’s share.

The PlanCon Advisory Committee suggested designating 75 percent of the state’s share to new construction, while 20 percent would be allocated to maintenance, repairs and modernization projects through a new small project building maintenance and repair grant program. The final five percent would be allocated for the new building reimbursement program dedicated to school safety projects. 

As part of the 20 percent allocated to the small project building maintenance and repair grant program, the advisory committee recommended a rubric be developed to prioritize grant awards based upon several factors including school district wealth, condition of school facilities, prior small project grant awards and emergency projects. Emergency projects are those defined as having deficiencies which prohibit a school building from being occupied.

“The committee discussed the development of a rubric to assist in prioritizing small project grant awards to ensure that funding could be objectively awarded to school districts based on criteria. As the condition of school facilities and the financial condition of school districts across the Commonwealth is not uniform, the committee considered including both the condition of school facilities and school district wealth as part of the objective rubric through which to evaluate applications for small project grant awards,” the co-chairs of the committee said.

Additionally, the committee recommended consideration of prior small project grant awards to the district as part of the rubric, as well as consideration of whether the project constituted an emergency, such as a project to cure a deficiency that prevented occupation of a building.

Finally, the advisory committee set a maximum payment amount from the state and a payment schedule. The maximum state share payment amount cannot exceed 65 percent of school district projects structural costs. The payment schedule will divide the state’s share into 20 equal payments to be made over 20-year periods.

“We believe that these recommendations will not only streamline the process, but will also provide a more reliable, fair way of distributing state dollars towards the construction or reconstruction of school district buildings,” the co-chairs of the committee said. “On top of that, we highlighted the need to prioritize those school district building needs that create an emergency due to a deficiency that prevents the occupation of a building.”

The advisory committee made its recommendations for changes based on public hearings and tours of school districts, material submitted to the committee and reviewing how several other states provide funding and oversight to school construction.

The advisory committee held eight hearings, receiving testimony from 50 stakeholders, and toured six school facilities.

Joining the three co-chairs on the advisory committee in unanimously approving the recommendations were: Sens. Ryan Aument, James Brewster, Andrew Dinniman, John Eichelberger and Vincent Hughes; Reps. David Hickernell, Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Ryan Mackenzie, Joseph Markosek and James Roebuck; Jeff Mummert, business manager for South Western School District, John Callahan, Director of Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association; and John Wanner of Wanner Associates.

While the PlanCon Advisory Committee unanimously voted on the recommendations for a new formula and process for school district construction and reconstruction reimbursements, the recommendations of the committee will not go into effect without legislation enacted by the General Assembly and the Governor.

For more information on the report recommended by the advisory committee, visit the PlanCon Advisory Committee’s website at http://plancon.pasenategop.com/.

 

Contacts:  

 

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) mmoyer@pasen.gov – 717-787-1349
Steve Miskin (House Leadership) smiskin@pahousegop.com – 717-772-9943
Nicole Reigelman (Secretary Rivera) nreigelman@pa.gov – 717-783-9802

 

Senators and Attorney General Urge Passage of School Threat Reporting System

 

HARRISBURG – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vincent J. Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13) and supported by Attorney General Josh Shapiro creating a new school threat monitoring system in an effort to help reduce school violence is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate today (May 22nd).

The Safe2Say Program would allow anonymous reporting of threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools.

“I am pleased the Senate is moving quickly to enact this important legislation that will provide a confidential, anonymous way for students to report any suspicious behavior or activity they have witnessed or that has been brought to their attention,” Senator Browne, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said. “Students may not feel comfortable bringing the actions, comments or behavior of their fellow classmates to the attention of authority if they must identify themselves in the process. However, students are more likely to feel comfortable and safe if they are able to report these concerns anonymously.”

Senate Bill 1142 was modeled after a similar system created in Colorado – the Safe2Tell program – following the tragic school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. Since its inception, Colorado authorities have received more than 30,000 reports of potentially dangerous situations.

“With another school shooting taking place last Friday in Texas, I’m grateful that the Senate is moving quickly to pass SB 1142,” Senator Hughes said. “I believe the Safe2Say program is a common sense proposal that will save lives by providing a central location for students and others to report potential threats and other activity. We have much more work left to do to protect our children, our schools and our communities and the passage of the Safe2Say program today is a good first step.

“I want to thank Senator Browne, Senator Martin and Attorney General Shapiro on this legislation. The safety of our children is not a partisan issue. I also want to thank Senator Scarnati, Senator Corman and Senator Costa for moving SB 1142 out of the Senate so quickly. I call on the House of Representatives to do the same so we can get this bill to Governor Wolf’s desk.”

This legislation, which passed both the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees unanimously, would require the Attorney General to administer the system and ensure the information can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.

“In light of the tragedies that have taken place in communities throughout the country, school safety needs to be among our highest priorities. Creating a strong threat reporting system is the first step in that process,” Senator Martin said. “It is extremely encouraging to see members of both parties come together to help create a safer environment for students.”

The Attorney General’s office would create the system, which would accept the anonymous complaints through a hotline, online or an app. The program will cover emergency and non-emergency reports. It is not meant to replace 911 services, to be used as a disciplinary tool for school employees or as a law enforcement tool. And, there is a provision in the bill for persons knowingly or intentionally making a false report.

“At least five other states have created school safety programs like Safe2Say, and I commend Senators Browne, Hughes and others for their leadership in bringing this initiative to Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “It’s a choice we are making to allow gun violence in Pennsylvania schools. The Senate is making a choice today to prevent this kind of violence.”

At least five other states have created similar programs.

CONTACT:

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) (717) 787-1349, mmoyer@pasen.gov
Wesley Robinson (Senator Hughes) (717) 787-3497, wesley.robinson@pasenate.com
Terry Trego (Senator Martin) (717) 787-6535, ttrego@pasen.gov
Carolyn M. Simpson (Attorney General Shapiro) (717) 787-7157, csimpson@attorneygeneral.gov