Local districts take action to ensure safety
Local school districts have all taken action of some sort in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
- Southern Columbia Area administration met with police chiefs from Ralpho, Catawissa and Locust Townships in January to discuss current policies and security measures at the district buildings.
The district's administrative assistant for safety and security, David McAnnaney, now walks the outside perimeter of all school buildings to ensure all doors are secure, a duty that was recently added.
It was decided to provide blueprints for each district building so first responders would know the layout of each place and best access points. Metal plates with numbers were also mounted on the doors.
Furthermore, the schools have been practicing locks down drills, and the board members have considered purchasing more security cameras and upgrading and expanding the use of card access readers to enter school buildings.
- Line Mountain School Board members have been debating the merits of allowing teachers to be armed in the school settings and whether to hire a professional, such as a School Resource Officer (SRO).
Earlier this month, the board granted Line Mountain Junior-Senior High School Principal Jeffrey Roadcap and construction technology instructor Jared Haas to move forward with building first response boxes for every classroom in the event of a school shooting or other emergency.
The box will be equipped with emergency supplies, including bandages, gauze, burn relief cream, sanitizer, ice packs, CPR kits and 50 other medical materials, and could also include pepper spray, retractable batons and other self-defense mechanisms in the box.
- A week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Mount Carmel Area School Board unanimously agreed to retain a school resource officer (SRO) in the district on a month-to-month basis. Funding for the position, which has been held by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Brian Carnuccio since January 2009, was provided by the school district and Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which was set to expire Dec. 31.
An agreement was reached in which the district pays $23,543.73 from January to the beginning of June for the SRO, if he's retained for that entire time, while the township will pay $18,053.48 during the summer months toward Carnuccio's $41,600 salary.
Serving as Mount Carmel Area's SRO, Carnuccio works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. He leaves the district campus only if he's summoned to assist with a police-related emergency.
- After advertising for the position of full-time armed security staff members, the Shamokin Area School District received 10 applications, and three individuals will likely be hired by April. They will be armed, but they will not have the power of arrest.
It's expected one guard would be hired for each of the three district buildings. Once a staff is assembled, they'll be trained on the district's recently purchased, and recently received, metal detectors.
Shamokin Area spent $16,400 total on four metal detectors last month, and a fifth is expected to be purchased.
Two detectors will be placed at the middle/high school for students, staff and visitors to pass through. Only staff and visitors at the main elementary and the elementary annex must use the detectors at those buildings; students will not have to pass through them. The fifth detector, if purchased, will be used at the middle/high school for large gym bags and music equipment.