Bellefonte approves school safety management application

By EMMA GOSALVEZ

egosalvez@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE – Bellefonte Area School District is continuing to make sure student, faculty and staff safety is a number one priority.

During the Tuesday, Jan. 9 meeting of the district Board of School Directors, members unanimously approved a safety management application called SchoolGuard. According to Director of Fiscal Affairs Ken Bean, costs for the district to use the application involve a $5,000 one-time setup fee and a monthly maintenance fee that comes to $4,980 per year.

“It’s another layer of safety and security for our staff and students,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Tammie Burnaford.

Back in late November, Superintendent of Schools Michelle Saylor brought up potential implementation of the application before the school board, and previously, the district’s school resource officers had highly recommended it.

SchoolGuard will give all faculty and staff members who choose to install the application on their personal smartphones the ability to immediately notify law enforcement of incidents that take place on school grounds.

If a violent incident should occur, faculty and staff will be able to push a panic button on their smartphone, which will alert any law enforcement officer in the vicinity who has an application called Hero911 on their phone. This will decrease officer response time, Saylor said.

A study was done at Sandy Hook that determined if the school had been able to have the SchoolGuard application, there would have been a significant decrease in response time of law enforcement, Saylor mentioned. This would have saved probably 11 lives.

In addition, the application will allow faculty and staff to discreetly notify other faculty and staff within their building if a challenging situation should arise that would require assistance. Saylor said there is also an option within the application for administration to push out critical information, eliminating the need to access a computer or the public announcement system.

There will be defined digital geographic areas around each building, or geofences, which will prevent accidental activation of the application outside of school grounds. Each geofence will cost $83 per month, as part of the annual monthly maintenance fee, Bean said.

According to Saylor, the district anticipates having the application in use by the end of the month.

More information about SchoolGuard can be found online at http://schoolguard.guard911.com.

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