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Iron Forge Elementary

Iron Forge Elementary School is in South Middleton Township.

South Middleton School District has been approved for about $25,000 in state grant money to enhance the safety and security of its students and staff.

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency recently allocated Part A funding under the School Safety and Security Grant Program of Act 44.

About $14,000 will be used to purchase a districtwide radio and repeater system that includes 20 hand-held and encrypted radios.

The system would enable school administrators to communicate more efficiently between buildings in the event of an incident or emergency, said Jon Still, chairman of the school board’s safety and security committee.

Still said the system would also allow administrators to get word out immediately to local law enforcement.

The remaining $11,000 will fund contracted services with the Center for Safe Schools of Camp Hill and MG Tactical Advantage of Carlisle to help the district update its All-Hazards Plan. The plan is an outline of procedures the district would take in response to a range of scenarios, Still said.

South Middleton has an application pending before a commission grant committee for about $65,000 in Part B funding. That money could be applied to the salary, training and equipment of a full-time school resource officer.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office briefed the South Middleton School Board on the SRO program it offers in Big Spring School District. The South Middleton board is weighing the feasibility of implementing a similar program.

The South Middleton committee recently discussed the need for standardized active shooter training within the district. In the past, each building administration has been left to itself to produce guidance to staff, and the training was usually limited to videos.

Committee members agreed a future contract with the Center for Safe Schools should include the use of Part A funds for standardized training. The committee also recommended the district seek the support of the Pennsylvania State Police in providing active shooter training during 2019.

There has been a renewed focus nationwide on school safety and security brought on by such high-visibility school shootings as Parkland, Florida. Safety and security measures were debated by Pennsylvania lawmakers last spring, resulting in the allocation of money in the state budget for public school safety.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.