How to make Pennsylvania schools safer is the question before state Senate lawmakers as they consider recommendations to prevent gun violence, fighting, and bullying in the classroom.
The commonwealth already allows schools to have what are known as school resource officers. They’re sometimes described simply as armed guards.
But state Sen. Lisa Baker says they’re much more than that.
“They’re doing bullying prevention, they’re looking at suicide prevention, so they’re a resource in the halls of the school on a given day,” said Baker, R-Luzerne.
Many superintendents see these kinds of officers as the best bet to ensuring safer schools, says Baker, chairwoman of the Senate committee covering emergency preparedness.
Lawmakers are calling a proposal to increase funding for such positions a good first step, but they note other recommendations for safer schools.
Those include changing how the state reviews school safety procedures.
But school districts are quick to remind lawmakers they don’t want to be on the receiving end of a one-size-fits-all approach to tighter security.
Baker says lawmakers aren’t yet looking at the costs of various safety-boosting recommendations.