School safety is priceless

Published Mar 7, 2013 at 10:24 am (Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 10:53 am)

At a recent meeting of the South Fayette Board of School Directors, the board unanimously voted on an agreement with a visitor management software provider to beef up security measures in the district’s schools as well as pupil personnel and administrative offices.

Once the system is in place, anyone entering any building on campus will have to show a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID, which will be scanned in and a visitor’s pass will be issued. The system also scans for a criminal record or other potential red flags, including protection from abuse orders. While the district did not have money for such a system in its budget this year, it was such a high priority that the $9,010 start up cost is being taken from the general fund.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, as well as other recent mass shootings, South Fayette is right to place a system like this high on its priority list. We don’t think there should be a price tag on the safety of students and teachers.

Other area districts have looked into additional security measures. Canon-McMillan Superintendent Michael Daniels was among a group of school administrators who was part of a meeting to discuss improving school safety across the country. While Daniels agrees that buildings must be as secure as possible, he cited budget as the reason for eliminating the possibility of an armed officer in the district’s schools.

Bethel Park has updated its security procedures, including a policy that requires visitors to be buzzed in through a designated entry door and presenting photo identification before entry is permitted.

Mt. Lebanon has increased the frequency of random unannounced police officer walk throughs in its buildings, and other area districts are reviewing policies. The bottom line, again, is that school security and safety decisions should not be made based on budget. We encourage all districts to find room in their budgets and do whatever they can to make every school as safe and secure as possible. If only one child’s life is saved as a result, if only one incident is prevented as a result, then in our opinion, that is enough.

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