COAL TOWNSHIP - Metal detectors will be installed at all three Shamokin Area school buildings no later than next school year.

The board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase four metal detectors at a total cost of $16,400. Funding for the purchase will come from the district's capital reserve account and not the general fund budget.

Director Ed Griffiths, Shamokin's chief of police, said two detectors will be used at the middle/high school, and one each at the main elementary building and the elementary annex.

Teachers and staff members will be trained on the equipment, he said, and expects them to be up and running no later than the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Directors said they are looking into further security measures. Among those measures could be a security staff. If that comes to pass, guards would also be trained on the equipment.

Shamokin Area officials visited Hazleton Area School District last week to observe its security measures. That district installed a dozen metal detectors at four district buildings prior to the start of the 2012-13 school year.

The metal detectors purchased by Shamokin Area will come from Firing Line Inc. Director Charles Shuey, a retired Coal Township police officer, called the Garrett model units "state of the art," saying they'll not only detect the presence of metal on a person but also the part of the body where the metal can be found.

"It will speed the process of students entering the school," he said.

The detectors would be used on students, employees and visitors when the schools are open. Director Ron McElwee said he envisions them being used at all events held at district buildings, including athletic and music events.

Director Brian Persing, board president, said Hazleton Area's system has detected numerous knives students attempted to carry inside school buildings, along with one gun, although he didn't specify if it belonged to a student or a visitor.

It can also detect cigarette packs and has helped reduce smoking incidents at Hazleton Area, he said.

Shuey said the metal detectors won't completely prevent a school shooting tragedy like that in Newtown, Conn., in December, but it will reduce the likelihood that weapons would be smuggled inside Shamokin Area schools.