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  • District safety and security enhanced under Act 44, Barto named district's safety and security coordinator 

    By Brit Milazzo
    bmilazzo@basd.net
    Public relations, BASD

    Bellefonte Area School District will be purchasing new equipment to enhance safety and security measure at its schools, including buying new two-way radios for its school resource officers and staff. This comes with help from a $25,000 grant the district received through Act 44, which requires public school districts in the commonwealth to ramp up safety and security measures through the use of an administrative school safety and security coordinator.

    In this role, Aaron Barto, who also acts as the district’s facilities director, oversees safety and security policies, district compliance with state and federal school safety and security laws, coordinates a variety of trainings for staff and students, and more.

    “We have already done a lot of things up to this point such as having secure vestibules, locked doors, one entry point into each building, closed-circuit TVs (security cameras), SROs,” Barto said. “It also requires this individual to oversee and work with the SROs, and to provide resources for student and staff training and make sure we have met those requirements with at least three hours of training every five years in a variety of categories.”

    Mandatory training includes matters related to:

    • Situational awareness, trauma-informed education awareness, behavioral health awareness, suicide and bullying awareness, and substance abuse awareness; and
    • Emergency procedures and training drills such as fire drills, natural disaster drills, active shooter drills, hostage situation drills and bomb threat drills.

    The district already requires its staff members to participate in mandated suicide and reporter training and more, which is often more than three hours per every five years, Barto said.

    The district also provides additional resources for faculty, staff, students and the community with the Safe School Helpline and Saf2Say Something programs. To learn more about those initiatives, visit these links: https://www.basd.net/Page/14135 and https://www.basd.net/Page/14427.

    Barto said he will soon work with the state Department of Education on approved trainings. PDE has yet to come out with a list of those trainings. For now, the district will continue to offer training for these components and document its safety and security training initiatives.

    Act 44 – signed into law June 22, 2018 – is a state mandated statute for improving school safety and security by requiring a coordinator to oversee, organize and provide resources about safety and security training for staff, in additional to reviewing all district policy as it relates to state and federal laws.