Harrisburg – June 16, 2020 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the School Safety and Security Committee approved the framework to distribute more than $150 million of a total of $215 million in federal CARES Act funding.
“The action taken today by the School Safety and Security Committee is important because it will help speed the distribution of hundreds of millions in federal CARES Act funds to address pandemic related expenses,” Brewster said. “These dollars will go as grants to schools and help reduce community violence.”
Brewster said that all school districts will get a mandatory minimum grant of $120,000 plus additional funds based on daily student enrollment. Other school entities will get a $90,000 grant.
“I am pleased that these funds will be soon rolling out of Harrisburg and into local school districts,” Brewster said. “We must remain steadfast in our commitment to help school districts deal with COVID-19 expenses, while we work with community groups to stem violence.”
Brewster has served on the committee that distributes school safety grants since its inception.
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Harrisburg – Aug. 29, 2019 – The statewide School Safety and Security Committee has endorsed state Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) plan to create a subcommittee to explore the development of baseline safety and security standards applicable to all schools.
“To ensure the safety and security of our students and all who go into public schools, it is critical that schools’ baseline safety standards be in place,” Brewster said. “A detailed safety and security plan with a focus on a school’s physical plan, accessibility to mental health services and environmental protections is necessary.”
Recommendations produced by the subcommittee will be sent to the full School Safety and Security Committee for approval, Brewster said.
Earlier this year, Brewster sent a letter to the members of the School Safety and Security Committee asking that they consider his proposal. Brewster, who serves on the committee, has sponsored Senate Bill 788, which would create baseline standards by statute.
Brewster said he asked the committee to act on his idea to expedite work on developing the standards.
“All school districts should have state resources available to adhere to easily understandable and clear baseline standards regarding the physical structure of schools, access to mental health professionals for counseling, and protection from environmental problems such as lead, mold and other health threats,” Brewster said. “Our efforts are centered on protecting students, teachers, administrators and parents who are in our school buildings and on campus.”
The McKeesport lawmaker said the state budget has included $60 million installments for each of the last two years for school safety. This funding can be applied to helping school districts comply with baseline requirements developed by the subcommittee, he said.
The School Safety and Security Committee was established by statute in 2018 and is administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Brewster said he is grateful that the committee acted on his request and pleased that it made his proposal a priority.
McKeesport – October 4, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced a total of $154,000 in state grants to improve safety and security in local schools.
“This funding will help establish safety programs, hire additional security personnel and purchase security-related equipment,” Brewster said. “I’m pleased with this round of state support and will continue to seek additional dollars to make our schools safer and more secure.”
The statewide grants were announced today by the state Department of Education following a report issued by the recently-established Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force. Brewster was the first state lawmaker to call for such a statewide task force, which provides an encompassing review of school safety procedures and makes recommendations for improvements.
Local schools receiving funds today include:
- $20,000 for the McKeesport School District (violence prevention program);
- $30,000 Baldwin-Whitehall School District (hire/train school security officers);
- $30,000 Plum Borough School District (hire/train school security officers);
- $30,000 Elizabeth Forward School District (hire/train school security officers);
- $30,000 Allegheny Township (hire/train school security officers)
- $14,000 for the Westinghouse Arts Academy (equipment);
Brewster said another round of grant funds will be coming from the new $60 million School Safety and Security Grant program he supported in this year’s state fiscal budget. Those grants will be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The deadline for schools to apply for the PCCD grants is Oct. 12.
“Following the tragic school shooting in Florida last year, I am pleased to see that local schools are working to bolster school security and safety,” Brewster said. “It is imperative that we continue taking steps to provide a safe and positive learning environment for all students.”
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Harrisburg- July 30, 2018- Nearly a quarter million dollars in total grant funding through U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) has been awarded to Clairton, Duquesne City, East Allegheny, McKeesport, West Mifflin Area, and Kiski Area School Districts, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).
“Fresh fruits and vegetables greatly benefit our children,” Brewster said. “Proper nutrition allows them to thrive as students, but it also sets them up with healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives.”
Pennsylvania was the first state to utilize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FFVP program in 2004. The program was expanded to all 50 states by 2008. FFVP aims to create a healthier school environment by providing healthier food choices to students. Healthier food options, like fresh fruits and vegetables, positively impact students’ long-term health.
FFVP funding is only available to schools where 50 percent or more of students qualify for free or reduced meals. The funding will go towards the planning and purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as providing nutrition education to students.
The total amount of grant funding for schools in Brewster’s district is $247,530. The schools that will be receiving the funds include:
- Allegheny IU 3 Sunrise – $2,331.00
- Clairton Elementary School- $24,253.50
- Duquesne Elementary School- $20,812.50
- Logan Elementary School- $46,953.00
- Kiski Area East Primary School- $26,473.50
- Francis McClure Elementary School- $40,237.50
- Twin Rivers Elementary School- $43,623.00
- South Allegheny Early Childhood- $13,042.50
- Homeville Elementary School- $19,425.00
- New Emerson Elementary School- $10,378.50
Harrisburg – March 27, 2018 – Hundreds of millions of dollars per year are committed to school construction and rehabilitation projects in Pennsylvania; and if Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) new legislation is approved, there would be no state reimbursement for buildings that are not equipped with state-of-the-art school safety features.
“Given the tragic school shootings, we have to explore all ways of improving school safety and keeping our children safe,” Brewster said. “New or refurbished school buildings must be equipped with state-of-the-art safety features to prevent trespass, stop assailants and secure space for children.”
Brewster’s legislation would prohibit state reimbursement for any school building construction or rehabilitation through Pennsylvania’s “PlanCon” process unless baseline safety elements are included in the plans. PlanCon is the acronym for the state’s Planning and Construction Workbook where school districts are reimbursed for approved school construction projects.
Brewster said the installation of safety stops, emergency lights and panic buttons, impenetrable strong glass, secure access points and surveillance cameras should be part of a “school security blanket.”
“Specific baseline school safety features would be approved through a statewide school safety panel so that experts would have the opportunity to express their ideas about best practices,” Brewster said.
The western Pennsylvania lawmaker is sponsoring legislation to create an 11-member commission that would be responsible for recommending new policies and procedures to protect students. He said recommendations related to school building safety is a perfect example of why a statewide commission is necessary.
“School districts are working exceptionally hard to protect students, but new, sophisticated threats require a fresh approach to school building safety,” Brewster said. “Taxpayers, students, teachers and administrators should be confident that a school building is protected from external and internal threats.”
Brewster said his proposal is a commonsense idea that can be quickly and easily implemented. He expects to introduce the measure within the next several weeks.