Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. July 15 2018
Susquenita School District is adding armed security officers to guard the schools this year, part of an overall security strategy included in the district’s budget that the board approved in June.
The move is in-line with options that many other districts in the region are considering to protect their schools from violence, Susquenita Superintendent Kent Smith said.
“We want to reduce the amount of time from when an incident starts and when someone can respond,” he said.
Adding a security officer to the district’s Penn Twp. campus is just one of several precautions — physical and technological — that Susquenita is taking for the 2018-19 school year. Districts around the region and country have been addressing security following deadly shootings at schools in the past several years.
At the June 12 meeting, the school board approved a contract with Information Network Associates (INA) to provide an armed security officer to be on campus during weekday school hours and a second officer for athletic events, musical and theatrical performances, and other special events as requested.
The guards’ pay rate will be $43 per hour, which works out to about $130,000 for the whole year, according to the district. That money was added to the budget this year.
“Their duties are pretty much standard for what an officer can do,” Smith said. “They can detain and investigate, but can’t arrest people.”
Other districts in central Pennsylvania already have school officers and many more administrators are considering the option to protect their schools, he said. Recent attempts at school violence elsewhere have been thwarted by the presence of armed officers, he said.
Susquenita’s board has also approved installation of surveillance cameras and will use a mobile app to give staff a panic button in the case of emergencies.
Last month, the board approved spending nearly $161,000 to upgrade windows with a safety and security film. The film, designed by manufacturer 3M, will be installed on all entrance glass and ground-level exterior windows. The film makes glass shatter-resistant, upping the difficulty for a potential intruder to break the glass and gain entry.
The contract was awarded to PA Window Tint Inc., which has offices in Bellefonte and York.