NEW BETHLEHEM – In the never ending battle between funding school programs and projects and maintaining a sustainable budget, Redbank Valley High School principal Amy Rupp recently discussed grant-related efforts to help defray costs of projects such as school security and robotics.
“We have been awarded $45,000 in grants [this year],” Rupp said, noting that the funding came from two school safety grants.
According to Rupp, the district recently received a $25,000 grant to install a Raptor visitor management system as well as to purchase wands, two-way radios and 24 exterior cameras for the high school and both elementary schools.
With expected implementation next month, Rupp said the Raptor system utilizes driver’s license information to create a personalized badge for every visitor that enters the building.
“We’ll be able to track everyone who is in the building at one time,” she noted, explaining that the new software also has the capability to do background checks on all visitors who enter the building.
In addition, Redbank also received a $20,000 grant to fund a bully prevention system, as well as the costs associated with non-violent crisis intervention and staff training for the student assistance program at all three buildings.
With funding from the two grants already secured, Rupp said she completed an application earlier this week for a competitive grant in the amount of $217,000 for interior and exterior cameras at all three campuses, updates to the phone system and metal detectors.
She added that she also submitted an application for a $30,000 meritorious grant for school security personnel.
“That is guaranteed,” she said of the grant, noting that the district’s application for a $40,000 school police officer grant is still under review. “If we get the $40,000 grant in addition to the $30,000 grant, we should be able to have two officers in the district for the remainder of this year and all of next year.”
She added that the district is also currently using the second year of a two-year $25,000 grant to help fund the school security officer.
Rupp said the grants are mostly issued by the state and awarded by the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
“In this day and age we have to take extra steps to make sure our students are safe,” Rupp said, noting the importance of removing distractions that inhibit student learning. “We want to take the distraction of feeling unsafe out of the equation.”
Along with the security grants, Rupp mentioned another grant that has been awarded to the district. It is a $38,000 robotics grant for technology integration into the classroom.
Additionally, district cafeteria manager David Reitz reported to school board members earlier this week that he recently applied for a USDA equipment grant for a kitchen in the high school and intermediate school.
“It’s a pretty competitive grant,” he said, explaining that he has applied for the funding in previous years without success. “Hopefully we’ll see some results this time.”
He also announced plans within the month to apply for a Pennsylvania Farm Bill grant for the Farm to School program, which, according to the Farm Bill website, is awarded to “provide elementary schools with funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities.”
While highlighting their recent success, Rupp wasn’t ready to end the quest anytime soon.
“We’re constantly searching for other grant opportunities,” she said.