Pa. schools use variety of methods to beef up security

March 04, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Images from Ohio show many of Chardon High School’s 1,100 students walking down tree-lined streets late last week as they returned to their brown-brick school building just days after a deadly shooting.

Without the “Chardon” shirts, it could almost be easy to mistake the pictures for ones taken in Franklin County’s communities.

And that is what gives pause to those responsible for our schools.

“My heart goes out to that community. At the very core of our mission (as educators) is the safety of students,” said James Robertson, superintendent for the Waynesboro Area School District.

Robertson said Waynesboro uses sign-in procedures and practices emergency protocols. Its high school has security cameras, and its middle school is poised to get some.

While adults can stop a lot of problems, they might not be able to deter a shooter if he or she is intent on finding a way to commit the act, according to Robertson.

Waynesboro’s last two weapons incidents were resolved by students reporting them, Robertson said.

“I think we’ve come a long way as a school district now because we have students who are reporting things,” he said.

In the past few years, the Greencastle-Antrim School District took measures to ensure people entering the schools do so through a vestibule with access to a secretary.

“We’ve certainly in the past several years locked all other doors to the building,” said C. Gregory Hoover, superintendent for the Greencastle-Antrim School District.

Badges are now required to identify staff and visitors, Hoover said.

“I’m not sure any of that would’ve prevented what took place,” he said.

Tragedies like the shooting create a heightened awareness for school personnel, Hoover said.

Neither Greencastle-Antrim nor Waynesboro schools have metal detectors. The superintendents said they hope the school environment does not become one where they need them.

Greencastle-Antrim High School has about 900 students; Waynesboro Area Senior High School has about 1,300 students.

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