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Franklin Co. school want safety money

August 24, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - School safety is on the minds of parents, students and educators across the country on the eve of the 1999-2000 school year following an unprecedented season of violence.

Franklin County is no exception.

The Tuscarora School district won't let high school students bring their knapsacks to class starting this year. The Chambersburg Area School District has a security guard walking the halls and grounds of Chambersburg Area Senior High School. On Sunday, parents and students in three Franklin County municipalities asked God to protect their schools at prayer.

School starts Monday in Franklin County.

The five Franklin County school districts have formed a consortium to seek a $150,000 state grant to buy hardware and set up safe school programs, said Lynda Cook, assistant principal for pupil Services in the Chambersburg Area School District and author of the grant application.

The $150,000, part of a $22 million appropriation by Gov. Tom Ridge to finance a statewide safe schools effort, would be divided equally into three areas in Franklin County, Cook said.

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She said one-third will go to the county's school districts - Waynesboro, Tuscarora, Greencastle-Antrim, Fannett-Metal and Chambersburg - for security measures including surveillance cameras in certain areas of the schools and video cameras on some school buses. Local school districts will decide which measures they want to take.

An equal slice of the grant would pay to train teachers for an early-grades bullying prevention program, Cook said. Teachers will learn to spot troubled students in grades K-3, to identify those who bully fellow students and teach them how to better relate to their classmates.

The idea is to turn children's behavior around at as early an age as possible.

The final slice would go to a more ambitious program - the Healthy Communities Partnership project.

Jan Crudden, executive director of the new program, said it could be 20 years before everything is in place.

The Healthy Communities Partnership consists of an evolving consortium of 37 area health care, human and social service, education, government and church groups whose chief goal is to turn back the clock to a quieter, safer time when whole neighborhoods, not just parents, cared about children.

Studies will be done and task forces set up to determine the general living conditions and health of children, establish preventative health measures and help them to develop a healthier lifestyle.

It will mean the first initiative in years where the community more than the schools will be asked to take a lead in the development and welfare of children, Crudden said.

"Schools can't solve all the problems," she said.

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