The following press release was issued by Pa. Senate Republicans:
HARRISBURG - School emergency plans and security measures designed to ensure student safety and increase school-to-parent communication during an emergency will receive an in-depth review by two key Senate committees Senators Lisa Baker (R-20), Mike Folmer (R-48), and Joe Scarnati (R-25) announced.
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The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Baker, and the Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Folmer, will hold the hearing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the North Office Building, Hearing Room 1, Harrisburg.
Among the strategies to be discussed is a proposal by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati to dramatically increase the amount of funding available for grants which schools could utilize for school safety and violence prevention initiatives, including training and hiring armed guards to protect their students, teachers and administrators.
"Every day care, school, college and university must have an emergency plan in place and they need to be able to carry it out," Baker said. "Law enforcement and other emergency personnel need the training and capacity necessary to prevent or respond to a crisis large or small."
"In light of the unimaginable tragedy which took place in Newtown last month, it is apparent that the most important thing government can do in order to combat evil is to ensure the greatest level of security possible in our schools," Scarnati said.
Many school districts across the Commonwealth currently employ armed police and school resource officers. "Superintendents who have contacted me in the past month have extolled the value of the presence of these brave individuals in their schools, while others have inquired as to where they can procure the funding in order to hire them," Scarnati explained. "In addition, I have heard from several qualified individuals in my district, who are more than willing to provide this important service to protect our children."
"Education is the bedrock of both our society and our economy, and safety is the foundation for education and learning," Folmer added. "Students, teachers, and educators need to know they are safe and parents have a right to know their children are and will be safe."
Testifiers at the Feb. 13 hearing will include representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, as well as school superintendents, teachers and principals.
"Everyone realizes the necessity of taking action to protect our children," Baker said. "The groups taking part in this effort to offer solutions is encouraging."