Blake Announces Over $2 Million in School Safety Grants for Local Districts

SCRANTON, February 26, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced $2.08 million in School Safety and Security grants for 15 school districts across the 22nd District.

The grant funding announced today was part of a $52.5 million investment in school safety and security across the Commonwealth. The funding was approved by the School Safety and Security Committee which was established within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

“The safety of our children and our teachers is critically important to the success of our learning environments,” Blake said. “Our school districts need adequate resources to properly assess and address the security needs of their facilities and the well-being of our students. I was proud to support the creation of this grant program in 2018 and applaud the Wolf administration for their continued work to improve all facets of our education system.”

The following school districts in the 22nd Senatorial District received funding:

  • Abington Heights School District: $40,000
  • Carbondale Area School District: $35,000
  • Dunmore School District: $35,000
  • East Stroudsburg Area School District: $494,969
  • Forest City Regional School District: $122,535
  • Lackawanna Trail School District: $30,000
  • Lakeland School District: $35,000
  • Mid Valley School District: $35,000
  • North Pocono School District: $40,000
  • Old Forge School District: $221,253
  • Pittston Area School District: $40,000
  • Pocono Mountain School District: $471,240
  • Riverside School District: $35,000
  • Scranton School District: $368,507
  • Valley View School District: $75,900

Blake noted that the grants awarded will be used for a wide variety of school safety needs across the region. Projects include performing school safety assessments; purchasing security-related technology and equipment; supporting school safety-related and behavioral-health trainings; preparing all-hazards plans; hiring school resource officers, school police officers, school counselors, social workers and school psychologists; and providing for trauma-informed approaches to education.

Eligible school entities include school districts, intermediate units, area vocational-technical schools, charter schools and private rehabilitative institutions. Act 44 created the School Safety and Security Committee, which reviews the grants.

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Blake Announces $175K in PAsmart Grants for 5 Area Schools

SCRANTON, January 17, 2019 – Senator John Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that four school districts and one charter school in the 22nd Senatorial District have received $175,000 in targeted grants through the PAsmart Initiative.

The grant funding announced today was part of a $8.7 million investment to expand computer science classes and teacher training at schools across the Commonwealth. Each of the recipients received a $35,000 targeted grant.

“As our economy evolves and technology advances, we need to ensure that our students are learning the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce of the future,” Blake said. “These state investments in STEM education and computer science programs will help us continue to build a highly-skilled workforce across the Commonwealth.”

The four school districts in the 22nd Senatorial District that received targeted grants were Mid Valley, Riverside, Pittston Area and Scranton. Fell Charter School was one of the 18 charter school recipients of funding.

The targeted grants represent the next phase of Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, which will provide $20 million to bring high-quality computer science and STEM education in elementary, middle, and high schools, and professional development for teachers.

Blake noted that additional PAsmart funding for science and technology education, apprenticeships and job training will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Sen. Blake, Rep. Flynn & Rep. Mullins Discuss Financial Recovery Status Declaration for Scranton School District

HARRISBURG, January 16, 2019 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and State Representatives Marty Flynn and Kyle Mullins today announced that the Scranton School District has been issued a declaration of Financial Recovery Status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

“We are all well aware of the significant and mounting budgetary challenges faced by our largest school district and without additional state support on an administrative and budgetary level, the district, our taxpayers and our students would only continue to suffer,” Blake said. “We have seen how the guidance of Act 47 has helped the City of Scranton on the path to recovery.  I believe the actions taken today by PDE will set a path for Scranton School District to return to financial stability and, importantly, improve the educational experience for all of our students.  Informed by details learned while under financial watch, this is a logical next step toward the district’s fiscal recovery.”

Blake noted that schools placed in recovery status are appointed a full-time chief recovery officer (CRO) who works onsite with school officials to implement a financial plan to lead the district into solvency and position it for academic success. In addition, a special advisory committee established by the school board will work with the CRO to provide recommendations and feedback on the financial recovery plan. The committee will meet with the CRO on a monthly basis.

“This declaration by PDE presents the Scranton School Board and district administrators with an opportunity to work more closely and collaboratively with PDE to ensure that the district gets its finances in order,” Mullins said. “Financial Recovery Status is the next step in a process that hopefully leads to a recovery plan that is fair to Scranton taxpayers and beneficial to district students.”

Scranton has been designated as a Financial Watch district by PDE since June 2017 and have been receiving technical assistance from PDE on financial and budgetary issues.  The legislators also noted that they had advocated for additional state funding over the past two budget cycles to assist the district.

“The District continues to struggle with its finances and it is good to see that the state and PDE are finally going to be more closely involved with the decisions being made,” Flynn added. “The Scranton tax base is so over-stretched and we are dealing with a severely underfunded school district. I hope that this designation can bring additional funding and eventually, financial stability to Scranton School District.”

PDE noted in their communication to Scranton School District that despite the additional state funding and technical assistance provided through the Financial Watch designation, the district continues to experience ongoing and significant financial difficulties and now meets relevant criteria to be placed in recovery status.

According to PDE, Scranton School District has until January 30, 2019 to appeal this designation to Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. If an appeal is not filed by January 30, 2019, PDE will appoint a chief recovery officer within five days. 

Other districts in recovery status include Harrisburg, York City, Duquesne City and Chester Upland.

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Blake Announces $375,000 in School Safety and Security Grants

SCRANTON – November 1, 2018- Senator John Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe Counties) today announced that 15 school districts across the 22nd Senatorial District have received $375,000 in School Safety and Security grants.

Each of the 15 school districts received a $25,000 grant through the recently established School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

“I was proud to support the creation of this new grant program through our budget negotiations in June to ensure that our schools have the resources and funding necessary to secure our learning environments and keep our students safe,” Blake said. “I am very proud of our school districts for applying for this important grant funding.”

In Lackawanna County, the following school districts each received a $25,000 School Safety and Security Grant:

  • Abington Heights School District
  • Carbondale Area School District
  • Dunmore School District
  • Forest City Regional School District
  • Lackawanna Trail School District
  • Lakeland School District
  • Mid Valley School District
  • North Pocono School District
  • Old Forge School District
  • Riverside School District
  • Scranton School District
  • Valley View School District

Pittston Area, East Stroudsburg Area and Pocono Mountain School Districts in the Luzerne and Monroe County portions of the 22nd Senatorial District also received grant funding.

The new School Safety and Security Grant Program, which was created as part of the 2018-19 state budget, will provide a total of $52.5 million in grant funding to school entities for programs that address safety and security. 

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Blake Encourages Local Schools to Apply for Safety and Security Grants

SCRANTON, September 12, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today encouraged local school districts to apply for funding through a new state grant program designed to improve school safety.

The new School Safety and Security Grant Program, which was created as part of the 2018-19 state budget, will provide $52.5 million in grant funding to school entities for programs that address safety and security.

“The safety of our students, our teachers and our schools is paramount and this grant funding will certainly improve the security of our learning environments,” Blake said.  “I encourage all of our school districts and educational institutions to take advantage of this new program that will significantly upgrade school safety programs and procedures across the Commonwealth.”

Blake noted that eligible uses of the grant funding include hiring of school security officers; purchase of security-related technology; safety and security assessments; implementation of violence prevention curricula; counseling services for students; and other programs and services that improve school safety and security.

Per the grant program, each school district that submits a justifiable application to improve school safety for an activity not already supported through other state of federal funding sources shall receive a minimum grant allocation of $25,000 annually. There is also competitive grant funding available in the program to school districts, intermediate units, area vocational technical schools, charter schools and private residential rehabilitative institutions.

All applications must be submitted electronically through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Egrants system PCCD’s Egrants no later than Friday, October 12. For more information on the grant program, visit www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety. School officials should contact the PCCD Egrants Help Desk at 717-787-5887 with any questions.

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