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Safety & Discipline

Southmoreland dinner dishes up more than $42K for school security

Jamie Martines
| Thursday, April 19, 2018, 4:24 p.m.
Kristy Smith, the president of the Southmoreland School District parent-teacher association and school board member Jim Carson, pose for a photo Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at Southmoreland Elementary School in Scottdale. The pair are organizing spaghetti dinners to raise money for increased security for the school districts. Their aim is to raise $40,000 from the fundraisers. 'I think we can do it,' said Smith. 'We have a lot of support from the community.'
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Kristy Smith, the president of the Southmoreland School District parent-teacher association and school board member Jim Carson, pose for a photo Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at Southmoreland Elementary School in Scottdale. The pair are organizing spaghetti dinners to raise money for increased security for the school districts. Their aim is to raise $40,000 from the fundraisers. 'I think we can do it,' said Smith. 'We have a lot of support from the community.'

It took 200 pounds of dry pasta and about 2,500 meatballs to raise more than $42,000 for school safety in the Southmoreland School District.

“I figured we'd do pretty close to that — I had high hopes, I should say,” said school board member James Carson, who was in charge of cooking for the nearly 1,000 dinner guests who attended the “Pasta for Protection” event April 11. The dinner was hosted by the Southmoreland PTA in an effort to raise money to support increased school security.

The rural district serves about 1,900 students across four buildings.

“People were very grateful, and the support was unbelievable,” Carson said of the turnout.

The school board will consider funds available for tightening security throughout budget planning, in addition to looking for state and federal resources, Carson said.

The board will be working with Officer Greg Keefer, the district's head of security, to prioritize safety improvements, Carson said.

Keefer, a retired state trooper, was hired by the district during the 2016-17 school year through a grant from the state Department of Education. He now serves as a Southmoreland School District police officer.

Upgraded door locks and security cameras along with additional armed officers are among the safety improvements Keefer suggests.

Though the $40,000 goal set by the Southmoreland PTA has been cleared, donations are still rolling in, President Kristy Smith said.

About $9,000 in donations came from spaghetti dinner ticket sales, with tickets for age 12 and up going for $10 each, Smith said. The basket raffle, which included more than 140 baskets, brought in another $10,000. A 50/50, strip ticket and “wall of money” brought in another $2,500. The rest of the money came from donations from local businesses and families.

“The number $40,000 was picked because we knew it would give us a very good start toward increasing security,” Smith said. “We hoped, but really didn't expect, to do this well. We are so proud of our small-town community.”

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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