Additional $1.3 Million Available to Virginia Localities in School Resource Officer Incentive Grants
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that localities can apply for an additional $1.3 million in School Resource Officer Incentive Grants. The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety, housed within Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), has released a grant solicitation for localities to apply for a one-time, twelve-month grant to fund school resource officer (SRO) and school security officer (SSO) positions.
“Ensuring the safety of Virginians, especially of our youth, is a core function of government. It is important that we take sensible approaches to increasing security,” said Governor Northam. “Our SROs and SSOs play a vital role in protecting our children and enhancing school climates and I am pleased that we will be able to provide additional support for our localities with these funds.”
In addition to making these funds available earlier than usual, DCJS has modified the School Resource Officer Incentive Grant requirements. The maximum amount of funding for School Resource Officer positions has been increased from $50,000 to $70,000 and the maximum amount of funding for School Security Officer positions has been increased from $22,000 to $35,000. Furthermore, localities will now be able to provide in-kind services to meet the composite match requirement of the grant. These changes will make grant funds more accessible to localities that may currently be struggling to fund SRO/SSO positions.
“Over the past several months, we have heard from our public safety, school, and mental health professionals, as well as parents and students, about the critical role SROs and SSOs play in our schools. We have also heard about the challenges some localities face in funding these positions,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Co-Chair of the Work Group on Student Safety. “I want to thank DCJS for hearing these concerns and adopting changes that will make it easier for localities to place certified law enforcement officers and SSOs in our schools.”
Governor Northam recently reinstated the Children’s Cabinet, and directed Brian J. Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education, to convene a Student Safety Work Group to focus on making recommendations to enhance student safety. The role, prevalence, and training of school resource officers and school security officers is one of the topics the work group is scheduled to discuss.
“Virginia has a robust system of educators, school counselors and school psychologists who are already in place to ensure our students feel safe and secure,” said Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education and Co-Chair of the Work Group on Students Safety. “SROs and SSOs also play an additional role in keeping our schools safe, not just because of the security function they provide, but also because of the mentorship they offer to our youth.”
“SROs and SSOs are an important part of school safety, and can play a key role in supporting school threat assessment teams” said Dr. James Lane, State Superintendent for Public Instruction. “We ask a lot of our teachers and school leaders. By having these officers present, our educators can focus more of their efforts on supporting students in the teaching and learning process.”
“DCJS is committed to making the placement of SROs and SSOs in schools easier and more affordable,” said DCJS Director Shannon Dion. “We hope that increasing the salary and allowing for in-kind match will help localities more quickly and easily place these vital resources in schools.”