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Allentown elementary schools to have security guards

By Emily Thiel, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 21 2012 08:39:42 AM CST
Allentown School Board
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The Allentown School Board insisted during Thursday night's meeting that their elementary schools, who were not previously supplied with security guards, have constant coverage due to the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Allentown School District provided elementary schools Lincoln, Muhlenberg and Ritter with security guards during this last week in an attempt to allow teachers, students and staff to feel safer.

Security was "thinned out" from the middle schools, where Superintendent Russell Mayo stated there are two or three security guards.

The security at the elementary level was meant for a temporary basis, but after strong opposition from the board, security will continue to be present in the schools until a permanent solution is found.

Mayo wanted to assess the information and speak to staff on how the minimized middle school security affected the school before making any formal decisions due to the financial deficit for the district.

"I think it's important that our teachers feel safe, our students feel safe and our students feel safe in all our buildings," said board president Robert E. Smith, Jr.

The preliminary budget currently presented assumes no increase to staff. The final budget is due for adoption June 27, 2013. The budget currently reflects a 2.6% millage increase to assist with filling a $22.4 million gap in the district.

Board member Joanne Jackson made a motion, which she later withdrew, that all Allentown School District schools will have a security guard present at all times.

Mayo stated he is uncomfortable making a decision and his intent is to bring the issue upon the finance board. Mayo assured the board, and those in attendance, that the district will continue to examine and provide security at the elementary school's until a decision has been reached.

"I know there are situations where we need additional officers even beyond these three schools," said Mayo.

"I don't know why we have three buildings in this school district that do not have a security guard," said Debbie Tretter, president of the Allentown Education Association, "There's no price that you can put on a child's life."