Harrisburg, March 30, 2023 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced the commitment by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) of nearly $5 million to improve school security and training while work continues on other aspects of school safety.
Since its 2018 creation, Brewster has been a member of the School Safety and Security Committee and the original advocate for hardening schools while at the same time addressing core causes by making mental health assessments more prevalent and counseling more available.
“Virtually every day we get a reminder that students are not as safe in schools as they should be or could be,” Brewster said. “We have taken steps recently to prepare educators and students and we have now put the money in place to work with students and staff to make improvements.”
At this week’s meeting, the PCCD School Safety Committee approved $4.8 million in state funding to support the development and launch of a new School Safety and Security Training program for school employees and School Safety and Security Coordinators, pursuant to Act 55 of 2022.
All school employees in Pennsylvania will now receive three hours of safety and security training every year, at no charge to their schools, through a new training program grant approved by the School Safety and Security Committee.
“Training for safety and security is a commonsense approach to deterrence,” Brewster said. “We know this training is difficult and, at times, stressful, but preparation is key to better outcomes and safer schools.”
The school employee preparation will include training on emergency drills, including fire, natural disaster, active shooter, hostage situations and bomb threats, and the identification or recognition of student behavior that may indicate a threat to the safety of that student, other students, school employees, other individuals, schools or the community.
The school safety coordinator training will include the topics for employees as well as more in-depth training on emergency preparedness, physical security assessments and securing facilities, and coordination and communication with law enforcement and emergency personnel.
In 2019 Brewster recommended the committee establish baseline standards of safety for every school in the Commonwealth. Specifically, he encouraged the committee members to establish physical baselines, including items such as door locks and cameras; mental health baselines, including school counselors and psychologists; and environmental baselines, including air quality monitors as well as lead and mold abatement. The committee is now working on Brewster’s recommendations for standards and an announcement should be made within weeks.
“The work continues, but I’m grateful to my colleagues and to Governor Shapiro for the progress we have made,” Brewster said.