Grant to pay for Franklin Regional schools' security upgrades

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Franklin Regional officials plan to use a $25,000 grant from the state to continue upgrades to the district's emergency preparedness system.

The district was awarded a Safe Schools Initiative Competitive Targeted Grant from the state Department of Education in March, Assistant Superintendent Mary Catherin Reljac said. The grant is part of officials' ongoing work to improve school security.

“It's a proactive approach, even though we had to react in April to an unfolding event,” Reljac said in reference to an April 9 knife attack that injured 21 people at the high school. “Our commitment towards safety is long standing and will continue into the future.”

The money will be used to upgrade building locks, the communication and security systems and a review of response plans, she said. Some of the money will be put towards training for some district staff members.

Board members said they were pleased with the plans.

“I'm so glad (the district) did this,” board member Jane Tower said.

Officials applied for the grant in December. Officials have focused on security upgrades throughout the past year. Last summer, the entrances to all five district buildings had security cameras and buzzers installed. Throughout the year, doors and locks have been replaced in several of the buildings as part of planned security upgrades.

District officials had specific upgrades in mind when they applied for the grant, Reljac said – specific, security-based technology that the district wants to implement.

“The needs are not the result of any one incident, but rather an ongoing need to focus on the health, safety and welfare of our students and staff,” she said.

The state made a significant amount of money available for districts to focus on security upgrades, she said. Franklin Regional is one of five districts in Westmoreland County and more than 100 schools statewide to receive money through the program.

Franklin Regional received the maximum amount available through the program, the most of any district in the county. Neighboring districts Gateway and Plum also received grants.

“It's a really important thing that's not unique for Franklin Regional. It's a thing that all schools focus on,” Reljac said. “Having funds to assist with the safety and security needs of the school district is critical not just for Franklin Regional, but for all school districts.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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