The Keystone Oaks School District security guard will be allowed to carry a firearm in school, and the school board also will discuss options for making the buildings safer.
The Keystone Oaks School Board voted 7-1 Thursday evening to approve school security guard Beth Padden to carry a firearm. Board member Dave Hommrich voted against the measure. Board member Robert Brownlee did not attend the meeting.
“For her to be security and not be armed would be putting her at a disadvantage if something would happen, God forbid,” school board President Marian Randazzo told Dormont-Brookline Patch. “It also gives us more flexibility if Aaron Vanatta would be out of the building. That way we wouldn’t be without security.”
School police officer Aaron Vanatta, like Padden, is based out of the middle school-high school complex. He is armed, and serves all five district schools, including Dormont Elementary, Fred L. Aiken Elementary, Myrtle Elementary.
Padden, who has been a security guard in the district for 25 years, will have to apply through the state to carry a firearm, and will have to go through an intensive, five-month training and testing process. If she passes training, Padden will be allowed to carry a gun at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
The certification process will be paid for by the school district at a cost of $1,900, which includes the cost of training and of the firearm.
In addition, the school board will continue to discuss other ways to make the schools safer.
Hommrich said that since next school year would be the earliest Padden would be allowed to carry a firearm, the board should consider what can be done to make schools safer for the remainder of the current school year.
“We’re not going to fix the problem even if we vote on this,” Hommrich said. “What do we do now? What do we do today?”
Hommrich suggested that the school board sit down with representatives from each of the three district boroughs and discuss a higher police presence in and around the schools.
Randazzo said Vanatta already is working with local police departments, which have increased their presence around the five schools.
Board members Gary Alward and Lisa Cancelliere noted that other districts, such as Chartiers Valley School District, do have local police officers patrolling school grounds, but that the district pays the officers. Cancelliere said she wanted to look into the cost of paying additional outside officers to work in the schools, compared to the cost of training Padden, a current employee.
The board likely will continue to discuss school safety at the February meeting.