Three York County school districts are the recipients of grants from the state Department of Education to improve safety in their school buildings.
The Safe Schools Targeted Grant distributed $2.6 million across 110 public schools in the state.
The most one district could receive from the grant was $25,000. The Eastern York school district earned that amount, and plans to use the money for a variety of programs, including ongoing staff development and emergency supplies, said Paula Westerman, the middle school principal and one of the administrators who worked to apply for the funding.
Some of the training will include the funding necessary to go over emergency plans with staff during in-service days, and will also include the costs of collaborating with local law enforcement agencies for drills.
"The more that we are able to work with these agencies, the better prepared we are," Westerman said.
In addition to the training, some of the grant funding will go toward creating "go kits," which will include items like secure thumb drives, portable mobile devices to create a Wi-Fi signal, cell phones and chargers that can be used at a moment's notice in case of emergencies.
The district plans to have seven of the kits — one for each school building and two for the central administration.
Other schools: The Dover Area and South Eastern school districts also received grants through the program.
South Eastern, which will receive $22,284, plans to install a new visitor check-in system and install cameras in the rear areas of 30 buses, said Leslie Trimmer, the district's assistant superintendent.
The bus camera portion of that is important, but Trimmer said the emphasis was on ensuring the safety of the school buildings with the new check-in system. The district plans to purchase the Raptor Visitor Management Software, which scans a visitor's license and checks for a record of sex offenses, among other things.
That same system will also provide visitor history and identification badges to wear in the school building.
The system will go into all six of the district's buildings and should be installed by the beginning of the next school year, Trimmer said.
Dover received $24,995 from the grant. Like South Eastern, the district will be spending part of the money to purchase a visitor check-in system in all of its buildings.
The district piloted a program during the 2012-13 school year at Dover Elementary with Ident-A-Kid, and will be using that system, said David Depew, Dover's director of special education and district safety.
The upgrades: Depew said the software is a one-time purchase, with periodic updates to the predator database and minimal supplies, such as the printed visitors' badges the program creates.
Depew said the systems should be in place by the end of the school year, because the district already has a preliminary relationship with the company from the pilot program.
In addition, district staff will be able to participate in training sessions with Northern York County Regional Police about situational awareness and how to identify potential safety risks, Depew said.
Police also recommended adding secured key-swipe access to certain district buildings, which the schools can now install.
Dover will also upgrade and reposition some security cameras in the schools and move all the cameras to one monitoring system, instead of the two it uses now.
Depew said the money for all the projects — especially the visitor software — is a help to the district.
"We've been hoping for this," he said.
Depew said that without the grant, security features like the camera funding would have to come from already-strained district budgets. And the visitor software would wait, because otherwise "the money's just not there."