With the new school year starting this week, districts across the country are implementing ways to keep their students safe and buildings secure.
Greater Johnstown School District students will see three significant security changes this upcoming school year.
The biggest change is the addition of a new school building along Park Avenue in the Moxham section of the city.
Superintendent Dr. Amy Arcurio said that it will be an “alternative educational placement for disruptive youth.”
Dr. Arcurio also says families can also choose to send their children there or opt for their cyber school program within that building.
One of the things that is at the forefront of the development of the Park Avenue school, is that it’s an educational option for students. It’s not a juvenile delinquent facility. We’re not in criminal justice. We’re educators. So, when our students are struggling behaviorally, we have to teach them the right behaviors. When children can’t read, we teach them how to read. When children can’t behave, we have the same responsibility to teach them how to behave,”
Another big change: the school switched their security company to Gardaworld.
This year, there will be 12 security officers throughout the district, along with a School Resource Officer in each school building.
The SROs will come from the Johnstown Police Department.
The last change to announce: every student in the middle and high school will go through a metal detector and ‘wanding’ every day.
Dr. Arcurio says students will be screened when entering their school building, along with all athletic facilities for games.
She says, last school year, students were only screened at ‘random’ due to a lack of security staff.
It’s not a response to just our community, but it’s really a recognition and a response to the world today. It requires us to be incredibly vigilant in making sure that those spaces are incredibly safe for our students and staff,”
Greater Johnstown School District leaders are also focusing on prevention rather than just reaction.
Dr. Arcurio says they need “mental detectors” in addition to metal detectors.
In recent years, they’ve hired more mental health staff, including social workers, mental health professionals, behavioral health specialists, and therapists.