Prince Edward, Buckingham schools get help with security funding

Published 5:41 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

FARMVILLE – In October 2022, Prince Edward County residents were asked to give their thoughts. What did they want to see change with the schools? What would make them feel better about their children’s safety? 

One of the most requested changes involved door security at all entry points. In the wake of school shootings across the country, parents wanted to see entry doors locked and secured at all schools in Prince Edward County. They also asked for an alarm system at all schools, alerting staff when outside doors are left open. 

The majority of that work’s already been completed. Now, thanks to a state grant, Prince Edward Elementary will just get one final piece. Out of $12 million handed out to 98 school divisions, Prince Edward Elementary received $1,394. 

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“The security grant funds will be used to upgrade the monitor that allows the secretary to have a clearer view of visitors needing to enter the building,” said Prince Edward Elementary Principal Teresa Vance. 

That’ll simply be purchased and plugged in, complementing previous work on both the doors and overall security system. 

Buckingham looks to upgrade

Nearby Buckingham County received a little bit more, but the money went to a similar project. The state gave Buckingham schools $20,101, which the district officials plan to use on Buckingham High and Buckingham Middle. 

“We are using the money to upgrade our door swipe systems throughout the schools,” Buckingham Superintendent Dr. John Keeler said. 

In the region, both Charlotte and Lunenburg counties also received funding, with Cumberland the only division that didn’t receive money out of the Herald’s coverage area. Charlotte got $60,396 to tackle a door security project, while Lunenburg County got $200,000 for a much more in depth and detailed security system overhaul. 

“We will be using these funds for additional remote entry systems at two of our schools, portable public address systems at the elementary schools, new metal detectors at the high school to be used for special events and upgrades to outdoor lighting at a few spaces outside our schools,” explained Charlotte County Superintendent Robbie Mason. 

Beyond Prince Edward County

All total, the $12 million went to 483 schools in 98 school divisions. Districts were asked to pitch, to present some type of security project they needed to accomplish and what kind of funding was required to make that happen. It could be anything from building a security card access system to buying surveillance cameras, setting up a communication system or strengthening door security, among other things. 

Once those pitches came in, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) went through and ranked them all, choosing how much funding to allocate based on that order. 

“The criteria developed by VDOE and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services gives priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades,” VDOE said in a statement.