Almost every public school district in Pennsylvania, including all in Cambria, Somerset and Bedford counties, has received $25,000 through the new School Safety and Security Grant Program.

Districts can use the funding in a variety of ways, including acquiring school security officers, security-related technology, safety and security assessments, counseling services for students, violence prevention curricula and other programs, according to information released on Tuesday

Greater Johnstown School District was among the recipients.

“We’re thankful that the state recognizes that not all districts have the monies that they need to ensure that they are most up to date with their safety measures,” GJSD Assistant Superintendent Amy Arcurio said.

Arcurio added: “It is unfortunate we’re at a time in our society where we just can’t assume that schools are a safe place. Unfortunately we can’t assume anywhere is a safe place any longer in light of the recent shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh.”

A first round of funding went to school districts that applied. 

The next phase of grants will be competitive.

The School Safety and Security Grant Program was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in June. “It was the recognition of the General Assembly that we need to provide additional resources for schools to be able to protect our most precious asset – our children,” state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Richland Township, 35th district, said.

State Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette, from the 32nd district, said, “These grants would not have been possible without the bipartisan cooperation of lawmakers and the valuable input of schools, teachers, students, law enforcement and other experts in school safety. Protecting our schools was a point of emphasis for me during the budget process, and I am grateful that our local schools will soon see the benefits of this new grant program.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.