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Plum borough, district officials to discuss school security

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

School security is expected to be a topic for next month's intergovernmental committee meeting.

Plum Council Vice President Keith Nowalk, in the wake of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead, called for a discussion among borough and district officials on security measures.

“Our Plum Borough administration has already been directed to open up any and all dialogue with school district administration and our Plum police force to address, improve and ensure every student and teacher's safety while in our care,” Nowalk, a member of the intergovernmental committee, said during last week's school board meeting.

“The discussion needs to be real; it needs to be effective, and it needs to be ASAP.”

The intergovernmental committee is made up of members of both borough council and school board. The committee meets monthly to discuss issues related to both the borough and the school district.

Nowalk said one topic expected to be discussed is the “continued need” of the school resource officer program.

Mark Kost has been in that position for a decade. Kost, also a borough police officer, last week visited the schools and reviewed the district's crisis plan with staff members.

Nowalk wants to discuss expanding the resource officer program.

“Having a police officer in every school would be a huge financial accomplishment,” Nowalk said.

The district contributes $76,000 a year toward Kost's salary and benefits that is a total $143,405. The borough covers the remaining $67,405.

The councilman also wants to explore a program like one implemented in the South Butler and Butler Area school districts. A Butler County judge last week signed an order giving the districts permission to have their qualified school police officers — all Pennsylvania State Police retirees — carry their personal service weapons to school.

Nowalk said the borough is prepared to offer “any and all resources” for whatever measures the two bodies would agree to implementing.

School board President Andrew Drake said the district has ongoing discussions with the borough about school security.

Plum Manager Michael Thomas said borough and school district officials meet monthly to discuss security issues in general.

Drake looks forward to more dialogue. He is confident that proper security measures are in place.

“I am comfortable with the security measures we have now,” Drake said. “We review them every summer, and they are reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Drake said officials are monitoring the findings in the investigation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

“If there are lessons learned and law enforcement suggestions, we will look at implementing them (in Plum).”

Drake said though the district has budgetary concerns, “you can't put a price on safety.”

“We will do what is best for the school district,” Drake said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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