HARTFORD – Private and parochial schools, including Catholic schools, are now eligible to apply for state grants totaling about $22 million, to improve security in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced July 17.
The first round of grants, totaling about $21 million, went out to 604 public schools in 111 school systems in the state, but private schools were largely left out. This year’s budget included private, magnet and parochial schools, according to Dr. Dale R. Hoyt, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic schools.
“At the same time, we want to make sure that our schools are secure but always remain welcoming,” Dr. Hoyt said. “We don’t want to make them look like a prison, but we want to make sure that they are secure for our young people and so that the parents will feel good that their child is in a safe environment.”
In announcing the grant availability, Gov. Malloy said, “Providing safe learning environments for our students and educators is a basic responsibility of state and local governments. ... Connecticut has made significant strides in our effort to provide safe learning environments for our students.”
Some security upgrades schools might implement with help from grant money may include surveillance cameras, penetration-resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double-door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarm systems and more.
Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, a lobbying group that helped push for Catholic school inclusion, said, “This was on the agenda of the Federation of Catholic School Parents, and we pursued the required channels to get this issue in front of, and keep it in front of, the people who had control over this issue.”
Asked why the grants were not available to Catholic schools during last year’s round of applications, Mr. Culhane said, “This issue is high on our agenda, but how high is it on the agendas of other people? ... I know we pushed during last session. ... We’re happy that during this past session, we were able to partake in the school security program with the help of the governor and the legislative leaders.”
He said the applications will begin to be available beginning late in July. Schools will have 60 days to complete the applications, he said.