By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
For the Journal Register News Service
PENN - Security has become a major consideration for all school districts including Avon Grove. While the district already has a number of security measures in place, including video surveillance, Superintendent Augustus Massaro and the school board are making sure they stay up to date.
During the Jan. 10 school board meeting, Massaro noted that there will be a vulnerability audit of the district by the Pennsylvania State Police sometime next month as recommended by the district attorney’s office. “We’ll have even more information to have an even safer facility than we have today,” Massaro said. “We continue to work on our options to ensure they are secure.”
Massaro said he had concerns about access to the outside of portable classrooms, but at the time they were installed he was told they could not be fenced in because of fire safety concerns. “Perhaps that position has changed,” he said.
Another area where there may be changes in the future is at the Avon Grove High School. “The high school is one of the oldest buildings in the district. Before you are greeted with a greeter you’re pretty far into that building,” Massaro said speculating that a place for greeter could be set up close to the main entrance.
Another security measure the board discussed briefly is a card reader system that could be installed at each of the school buildings. All visitors would be required to swipe their drivers’ license as they enter through the building offices and an instant background check is performed. Massaro explained that the system is already in use in the Great Valley School District and suggested board members could see it in action there.
The cost of the system is initially $1,600 per site, and $400 per year per site there after. A machine would be needed in each of the school buildings. There were concerns from the board that even if such a system was installed in the buildings, it would not be able to check people at the fields or remote locations the district uses like the Lincoln University pool.
Massaro urged parents who observe a security problem to report it promptly to the building principal at the time it happens so measures can be taken to correct it.
In the finance committee report, board member Herman Engel explained that the district may raise taxes by as much as 2.3 percent without filing for exemptions from the state or going to a voter referendum. As long as the board stays under that limit they can opt out of Act 1 requirements that speed up the budget approval time line. A resolution to opt out is expected on the agenda for the next meeting.
January is school board member appreciation month, and Massaro handed out certificates to the board members in recognition of their service. There will be four board seats up for election this year, two in Region One, and one each in regions two and three. Anyone interested in running for a spot on the school board needs to submit petitions in February.