By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

Officials from Kennett Square and Oxford were notified last week that they were among the recipients of school safety grants from the state.

Kennett Square will receive $59,548, while Oxford will receive $40,000 to improve safety and security in schools, including the hiring of school resource or school police officers.

According to a press release from State Sen. Andrew Dinniman's office, there are a total of 81 recipients from across the state that will receive a total of $3.9 million in grants. In Chester County, four school districts will receive a total of $179,000. In addition to Oxford and Kennett Square, the two school districts in Chester County that received the school safety grants are Octorara and Great Valley. Each of those schools or communities will receive $40,000.

Eligible schools and municipalities could apply for up to $60,000 for a school resource officer and up to $40,000 for a school police officer. Recipients must fund the officer’s position for at least two years. Pending available funding, the recipients will be eligible for 50 percent of this year’s award in the 2014-15 school year without reapplying.

Kennett Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Barry Tomasetti, Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick and Police Chief Edward Zunino worked quickly during the short application process to support the effort to acquire the grant.

Fetick explained, “On Thursday, January 23, Gov. Tom Corbett announced that the Kennett Square Borough Police Department and the Kennett Consolidated School District were among the winners of a grant for a School Resource Officer. This grant, in the amount of $56,048, will allow us to place a full-time police officer in the school to work together on public safety issues. The {police department and the school district} jointly applied for the grant and received support from borough council and the school board, along with letters of recommendation from State Sen. Dominic Pileggi and State Rep. Chris Ross. We look forward to working together on this new joint venture.”

Dinniman talked about the importance of having safe schools.

“Students must feel secure if they are to learn; you can’t have one without the other,” Dinniman said. “These funds will provide our teachers, principals, parents and students additional peace of mind so our schools can focus on what they do best – preparing our children for success.”