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Tamaqua school district mulls armed staff

Published October 10. 2018 12:56PM

The Tamaqua Area school board took one step closer to having armed staff in its schools.

At its work session last night, the board’s Safety Committee recommended that each school resource officer be paid $2,000 per year and a life insurance policy with a death benefit of $250,000 paid for by the district.

But board President Larry Wittig says it’s more than an armed guard. He’d like to see more staff members armed.

Pennsylvania does not yet allow armed staff. Senate Bill 383 and House Bill 2052 are still under consideration in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

“This is way down the road,” says Larry Wittig, school board president.

“There’s a lot more that needs to be done before this is implemented.”

Wittig said the positions will be filled only by those who volunteer to accept the responsibility.

“We could have one teacher or we could have a hundred. We won’t know until we put it out there.”

The Safety Committee, chaired by board member Nicholas Boyle, came to this option after much discussion.

“We found this approach to be a better option than having armed guards. If you have an armed guard, who is visible, he or she could be taken out and the perpetrator has free rein of the building. With this approach, a number of staff being armed and ready, the person has no idea who will be a threat,” Wittig said.

Wittig said the volunteers won’t only be teachers. Maintenance staff and administrators are eligible to volunteer for the positions, as well.

In other business, Connie Ligenza, the district’s business administrator, reported to the board that tax collections are up this year compared to the same time last year. The district has collected $462,000 more through the month of September than at the same point in 2017. She credited the tax increase as a key contributing factor.

It was also recommended that the food service vehicle be replaced and that the district is purchasing a new van at a cost of $36,342.

The board will hold its public meeting Oct. 16 in the Tamaqua Area Middle School.

Why is this article so late and vague? A board member is posting the inaccuracy of this article on social media. I’m hearing that this has passed and that it can be implemented in the Tamaqua district.

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