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Pitcairn pitches in to add police officer at Gateway Middle School

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

A Pitcairn police officer will stand guard at Gateway Middle School next year, after parents approached the school board in recent months with worries about student safety.

The Gateway School Board unanimously approved an agreement with Pitcairn borough at the June 25 school board meeting.

The governing bodies will split the annual compensation and benefits of a Pitcairn officer, which is an estimated $75,000, Pitcairn police Chief Scott Farally said.

The officer will be tasked with maintaining a safe campus, assisting with drug education and providing “an appropriate response” to school-related criminal activity, according to the agreement.

“If this was the only solution to getting an officer in the school, then I'm proud to continue the tradition of Pitcairn supporting the Gateway School District,” Pitcairn public-safety committee chairman John Bova said Tuesday.

A Monroeville officer paid for by the municipality was stationed at the middle school during the last school year as a response to increasing acts of school violence throughout the country.

Monroeville council cut the position from the 2014 budget, as the police department was reduced because of a budget deficit. The municipality already splits the cost of an officer at Gateway High School, which was about $150,000 last school year, district spokeswoman Cara Zanella said.

A Pitcairn officer and a substitute will undergo training by the fall in order to work shifts at the school, Farally said.

The Plum School Board on Monday voted to create a second school resource officer position beginning Jan. 1 and included an additional $50,000 to cover a portion of the officer's salary and benefits.

Board members previously had discussed having a second officer stationed at Oblock Junior High School and the new Holiday Park Elementary School. The new elementary school is scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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