JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley School District is taking steps to make students feel safer after nearly one-fifth said they don't feel secure at school. The district applied for — and received — a nearly $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to fund the purchase and installation of 12 security cameras each in Ryan Gloyer Middle School, the Intermediate High School and the Senior High School. In the application, the school district said a 2018 survey indicated 18 percent of middle and high school students in the district felt unsafe at school.
The feeling of being unsafe stems in part from bullying and theft, the application notes. A total of 9 percent of responsive students reported bullying in the hallways and cafeteria between classes and during lunch, while 19 percent said they were a victim of theft at school at least once.
Tracy Vitale, school superintendent, said the district was committed to improving student safety and perceptions of safety, and that the cameras are just one part of the move.
“We know crisis management planning isn't something that can be put on paper and placed on a shelf,” she said. “We routinely monitor and assess our emergency management plans to make sure we are addressing needs specific to Seneca Valley.”
In the application, the district said its expects cameras to lower the rate at which students feel unsafe or report unsafe conditions. They expect the cameras will drop the rate of students who feel unsafe to 15 percent, the number of students who report bullying to 7 percent and the incidents of theft to 16 percent.
In addition to the cameras, Vitale said the district employs numerous other methods, including school resource officers, counselors, programs addressing school climate and communications with parents. Vitale also touted the district's “multiple layers of security,” including controlled entryways, random use of mobile metal detectors and running background searches on visitors.
“We know students need to feel safe at school before learning can take place,” Vitale said. “It's our role as educational leaders to make sure we are doing all we can to provide the safest learning environment possible. We would like to emphasize to students, staff and parents that school safety is a top priority here at Seneca Valley.”