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Greensburg Salem to take stock of school security

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:33 a.m.

Security steps have been taken at Greensburg Salem schools, with more expected in the next few weeks, the district's superintendent told school directors during a meeting on Wednesday.

“We continue our all-out effort on learning and education, but safety of students and staff comes first,” Eileen Amato said.

She outlined steps to be taken in the next few weeks to heighten safety since 20 children and six adults were killed last month in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

District officials will be re-establishing the safe school committee, members of which include Greensburg police Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons, state police, city fire Chief J. Edward Hutchinson, principals, administrators, teachers and school directors.

“We think this is a good time to re-establish that committee,” Amato said.

Administrators will watch a presentation next week on a mechanism that blocks access through almost any door, the superintendent said.

Teachers will use part of a Jan. 21 in-service day to review safety topics with administrators in each school, Amato said.

On Jan. 28, district officials will meet with Westmoreland County public safety officials to consider which security systems are effective and which are not, Amato said.

State police will do a “vulnerability assessment” to determine strengths and weaknesses in building security.

Administrators and directors have fielded suggestions from parents and others about possible additional safety steps. Directors should consider these measures, Amato said.

Alarms on exterior doors, more cameras, camera systems hooked to police, a resource officer from police, armed security, armed staff and additional guidance staff are among the suggestions.

Many of the cameras in the district have been there for a while, Amato said, “and probably need to be looked at ... and updated.”

In the past, district and Greensburg officials attempted to have a camera system that gave police insight into buildings, but that effort fizzled when grant funding dried up, Amato said.

Director Dr. Richard Payha suggested a “panic button” as another possible safety feature.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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