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INDIANA: School board evaluating security needs

by on August 28, 2014 10:58 AM

The Indiana Area School District fought for it, and the school board is wasting no time embracing it.

At a bimonthly meeting Monday, the district school board discussed hiring the Indiana Borough police to patrol the White Township schools, as permitted under a newly enacted state law.

Board member John Uccellini, chairman of the Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Committee, said the panel would soon evaluate the security needs for the district’s six schools, then contact Indiana Borough Police Chief William Sutton to possibly negotiate a police service contract.

The new law, introduced last year by state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, now allows Pennsylvania school districts to negotiate with municipal police departments to patrol schools in nearby municipalities where the state police have primary jurisdiction.

White proposed the law in response to Indiana Area school officials, who complained of being frustrated in their efforts to have Indiana Borough police conduct regular patrols at Indiana Area Senior High School in White Township.

The district sought to step up police presence soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Any deal with the borough would have to be governed by costs, Uccellini said.

Uccellini said the district is looking to have all six schools, including three in White Township, be covered in a comprehensive police service agreement.

In other business:

• Director Brian Petersen, the chairman of the Academic and Extracurricular Committee, said the high school’s successful lacrosse club continues to grow in popularity in the region. The lacrosse team, which is permitted to use the school name in competition under PIAA and WPIAL guidelines, is not a formally sanctioned sport at the high school, but it includes players from the Armstrong School District, Blairsville High School and the Marion Center Area School District under cooperative agreements with those districts.

According to Petersen, the board will soon be asked to approve a fourth agreement to allow a student athlete from Apollo-Ridge High School to play on Indiana’s team.

The Indiana lacrosse team has 29 players on its varsity and junior varsity rosters, Petersen said.

• The board also approved Louis Ribar as a senior high band front assistant at an extra-duty, extra-pay salary of $2,366.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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