How Can Government Help Improve School Safety?

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HARRISBURG -- The question before state lawmakers after these recent deadly shootings: "How to make schools safer?"

Education leaders and law enforcement officials from our area testified at a hearing Wednesday in Harrisburg on school safety.

From Williamsport to Wallenpaupack and everywhere in between school safety continues to be a major priority.

At a hearing in Harrisburg, state senators wanted to hear from those on the front-lines; how can school be made safer?

"Our efforts will continue long after this hearing, and our children deserve nothing less," said committee chairwoman Senator Lisa Baker, R, Luzerne County.

School leaders and law enforcement officials from our area testified, most saying that state funding for training, security upgrades, and officers in schools is just a start in improving safety.

"We don't currently have school resource officers, it's a dialogue that's started since the Newtown incident, and I can tell you we're moving in that direction," said Wallenpaupack Area School District Superintendent Mike Silsby.

Silsby said there's growing need to deal with students facing mental health issues.

While the district looks for a way to pay for school resource officers, Pike County's sheriff testified that if schools choose to arm officers they should be highly trained with the right equipment.

"I really believe cream of the crop and best of our officers should be in the schools," said Pike County Sheriff Phil Bueki.

Lawmakers will take into account the wide range of suggestions from school administrators and law enforcement to better improve safety at schools in Pennsylvania.

One proposal on the table right now includes a dramatic increase in grant funding for school districts that could pay for armed guards to protect students, staff and faculty.