State Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Cecil, has introduced legislation to change the way funds allocated under the $60 million school safety and security block grant program are disbursed.
The program, created as part of Act 44 of 2018, a comprehensive school safety law, gave each school district that applied $25,000 for safety initiatives, including school safety assessments, security equipment, training, and hiring school resource officers. The remaining portion of the money was awarded through competitive grants by the School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
“As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I saw firsthand the flaws of awarding part of this funding through a competitive application process,” Ortitay said. “Larger and more affluent school districts had resources to create better applications. School districts should not be competing against each other for this type of money. In addition, it is the General Assembly’s responsibility to decide where funding should be allocated. My legislation is a much fairer way to disburse the money so that it will benefit the most people.”
House Bill 1631 would allocate $25,000 to every school district, career and technical school, intermediate unit, private residential rehabilitative institution and brick-and-mortar charter school. To receive the money, a school entity would complete a Pennsylvania Department of Education-created application requesting funding to address safety and security in one of 22 categories outlined in the bill. After the $25,000 is disbursed, additional money available would be awarded to public school districts based upon a formula that considers a number of factors including average daily attendance. In addition, the program would still include $10 million for grants to community violence prevention programs.
The legislation was referred to the House Education Committee for its consideration.