DuBOIS — Continued presence of school safety officers in the DuBois Area School District was listed as the second highest priority by the community at the start of the school year, according to Superintendent Luke Lansberry.

Those thoughts were expressed in Thoughtexchange, a place on the district’s website where ideas can be shared, at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We want the community to know that we hear them and appreciate that they took the time to share their thoughts and rate the thoughts of others,” said Lansberry.

The district applied for and received a Safe Schools Targeted Grant for a school police officer in the amount of $39,987.00. The money will be applied to help cover the cost of the full-time School Police Officers that have been added to each of the district’s four elementary schools this year, according to Lansberry.

In addition, he said a $24,798 Safe Schools Initiative Targeted Grant was awarded to DASD for equipment and a lock upgrade on the external doors at the middle school.

This money has been allocated for updating and adding new video surveillance camera equipment throughout the district, Lansberry said.

The district also received a $25,000 grant through the School Safety and Security Grant Program. Lansberry said this money will be used to purchase additional metal detectors and laptop computers that the SPO’s will use to monitor the surveillance cameras throughout the district.

“Our school district chief of police, Janice Bart, and SPO, Denny McFadden, have been instrumental in helping to prepare the grant applications for submission,” Lansberry said. “Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton and IT Director Dan Brocious also assisted in preparing each proposal. I would like to commend and thank each of them for a job well done.”

“I am appreciative of the team effort put forth and the support I received in regards to grant proposal preparations,” said Bart. “The buzz word is definitely ‘hardening our schools.’ What that means is that every school needs to tighten its own security measures and, additionally, each school needs to create a school climate that every child feels safe with coming to school every day.”

There is a difference in perspective for each school to harden their property, said Bart.

“This may be very different with schools that already have school police officers to respond as an emergency responder on the premises,” Bart said. “This spring, Officer Dennis McFadden and I had worked hard to identify our needs, analyzing our safety assessments, and work on measures that best suited our structures to keep all students and staff safe for each of our buildings. Our school police officers had a concrete plan on how hardening DASD would be an improvement.”

They then sat down with Lansberry and Benton.

“It ultimately was a group effort,” Bart said. “In addition, several staff members, including Julie Smith from the secretarial staff was a great help clerically this summer during grant proposal submissions. Many others provided documents as we worked together over the summer months on finalizing our biggest needs to ‘harden our DuBois schools.’”

One key factor at DASD is the concept of school safety being a shared responsibility, Bart said.

“Everyone plays a part in school safety and I am grateful that we have such resources,” she said. “With everyone taking a responsibility for school safety, it defines and continues to outline and show how essential it is for everyone to do their parent for safety; whether a student, parent or a community member. I am proud that we are being recognized and awarded for this grant for the safety and security of our DuBois Area School District school buildings. I was thrilled to learn that our school was selected will be the recipient of the PDE grants considering the effort that was put into this endeavor which will help us harden our schools in many ways.”

Lansberry also congratulated Bart for being named by Gov. Tom Wolf to the State School Safety and Security Committee as an expert in strategic security.

“We are fortunate to have so many knowledgeable, caring and dedicated individuals working so hard each and every day to improve safety within our schools,” she said.

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