The tragic shooting that left dozens dead at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday has led to a fresh look at school security across the country. Across this region, the spotlight highlighted big differences in the issues school districts are facing.
Merle Horowtiz, superintendent of the Marple-Newtown School District in Delaware County, sent out a letter to staff and parents at the six schools she oversees. Mostly, Horowitz wanted to remind people about the security procedures already in place in the district: ID scanners at building entrances, crisis-response teams, and the drills that school staff practices each year.
Horowitz says the Marple-Newtown school board made a big investment in school security a few years ago, and that has helped parents feel better about sending their kids to school after Friday’s tragedy.
“It has been business as usual in the Marple-Newtown School District today,” she said.
In Philadelphia, meanwhile, safety officials made mostly minor changes to their security procedures. Cynthia Dorsey, the head of the district’s Office of School Safety, said the district partnered with police to extend patrols around elementary schools in the morning and emphasized prevention with school staff.
But worried Philly parents such as Jennifer Cullen said business as usual isn’t going to cut it.
“I’m really not concerned about what happened in Connecticut happening at my children’s school,” said Cullen, who has three children at Fitzpatrick Elementary in Northeast Philadelphia. “I am more concerned about the day-to-day safety of my children.”
Cullen said budget cuts have eliminated the most important security measure of all –- people.
“When you keep taking aides away, and you keep taking away the school police, you’re missing at the basic level how to nip problems right at the beginning,” she said.
Officials from both districts say they’ll continue to make do with the resources they currently have.
This story was reported as part of a partnership in education coverage between WHYY/NewsWorks and the Public School Notebook.