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Leechburg board looks at school security

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:52 a.m.

Improving security at David Leech Elementary School will be a focus of the Leechburg Area School District as officials consider safety and security measures in the wake of the mass shooting last month at a Connecticut elementary school.

Moving the elementary school's office has been a long-term plan of the district, Superintendent James Budzilek said. In the meantime, efforts will focus on securing two sets of doors that visitors encounter inside the school after being allowed entry.

Currently, visitors gain access to the school after being buzzed in at the main entrance, which has video surveillance.

Once inside the lobby, there is another set of doors leading to the hallway, and a stairwell with a set of doors at the bottom.

As a short-term fix, those doors will be secured immediately with a key card system so that once a person is inside the lobby, they can go no further without additional permission.

Additional video surveillance will be installed, too, Budzilek said.

Budzilek said plans to move the elementary school office to a newly built office in the lobby have been in the district's budget for three to four years.

The cost to use a contractor has been estimated at $60,000. District staff could do the work, which would leave other tasks undone, he said.

Budzilek said the district has invited Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold to talk with them about security matters. Those discussions will include deciding if a school resource officer is an option for the district.

Requiring teachers to keep classroom doors locked throughout the day is also being discussed. The doors could be kept open, but locked, so they could be secured quickly.

In other business

• Leechburg Area should not have to raise property taxes for the 2013-14 school year by more than its state-imposed inflation index, according to Business Manager Mark Lukacs.

Lukacs said administrators are recommending that the school board promise not to raise taxes by more than its index of 2.4 percent.

The vote does not mean that there will be a tax increase, only that it will not exceed that limit.

“It's our desire to have no increase,” Budzilek said.

Lukacs said budget meetings would be scheduled for early March. A preliminary budget would be voted on in May, and a final budget would be passed in June.

The board next meets at 7 p.m. Jan. 16.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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