New Castle News

January 9, 2013

Shenango Schools: Police to have more presence in buildings

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Shenango Area School District is implementing security measures for its elementary and junior/senior high schools.

The administration recommended the measures to the school board, which accepted them this week. The changes come in the wake of shootings last month at a Connecticut elementary school that resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six adults.

“We decided to take a look at what security procedures we have in place and to identify what we needed to improve,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Schreck.

Under the plan, Shenango Township police officers will provide a visible presence in both buildings throughout the school day.

Asked whether there would be a monetary cost to the district for having township police in the schools, Schreck said that has yet to be determined.

“We have an excellent relationship with the township police department, and they are willing to assist us in any way they can,” he said.

In-service training will be provided for teachers on how to proceed if an “active shooter” is on the premises.

The training also will include identifying “at-risk” students who need help.

Under what is referred to as three- to five-minute strategies, buildings will be made more secure with new locks, systems to control access to building, plus additional security cameras and sensors.

Panic buttons also will be installed in both buildings alerting teachers and police to a lock down.

Other considerations for the future include installation of phones in elementary classrooms, direct communication from classroom to classroom and the ability to make building announcements from a classroom.

Schreck said these would be considered for the district’s 2013-14 budget.

The district also will have state police perform a risk assessment of the school grounds in the future.

The security procedures, Schreck said, resulted from a risk assessment performed of both buildings and the recommendations of a 22-member safety committee.

Schreck, two school principals and township police Superintendent William Phillips performed the assessment during the holiday break.

The committee was comprised of administrators, school board members and concerned parents. It also included Tina Marshall, county emergency medical services coordinator; township fire Chief David Rishel; former district attorney Matthew Mangino; and Phillips.