BRICK – The school district has been awarded two sizable grants this month – one that would fund security enhancements, and another to expand the full-day preschool program for general education students.
A $469,281 federal School Violence Prevention Program grant would partly be used to purchase and install 229 surveillance cameras, said Board of Education President Stephanie Wohlrab during the most recent school board meeting.
In May, the township police department and the school district partnered with national school safety firm SERAPH to provide training for school safety, which led to township grant writer Tara Paxton securing the nearly half a million dollar grant.
On October 4, the police department received notification of the grant, 60 percent of which will be used to pay for the surveillance cameras and the rest to pay for infrastructure, Wohlrab said.
The matching funds from the school district are designated to pay for licenses for the software, and 10 percent of the labor costs, she added.
“This grant came upon us very quickly. There was a very, very quick turnaround and it was a really tight timeline. We all came together and we got this done in a short period of time,” she said. “It will help to protect some 8,900 students and 1,500 employees who occupy the 12 buildings daily.”
The grant application had to be submitted by the police department in support of their efforts to maintain safety in the township schools, and it comes just before the November election when taxpayers would be asked to vote for a $12.5 million referendum, which would pay for security upgrades to school vestibules and security technology.
The second grant, a $690,965 Preschool Expansion Grant, would expand the number of general education children who could attend full-day preschool in an integrated classroom with special education students.
For every 10 general education students in the full-day program, there would be five special needs students, explained Superintendent Gerard Dalton.
Three new full-day preschool classes would be started in January 2019, and the plan calls for 16 full-day preschool classes for the 2019-2020 school year. Classes would be capped at 15 students.
According to the State Department of Education, the grant requires one certified teacher and an assistant for each class of 15 children.
The Brick School District was one of only 31 in the state to receive funding from the Department of Education to expand the preschool program for four-year-olds.