Penn-Harris-Madison plans to improve security to prevent shootings at its schools

A recent active shooter drill at Penn High School // WSBT 22 photo

We're halfway through 2018 and already there have been dozens of school shootings. Leaders with the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation are trying to prevent that tragedy from striking here.

The district is adding new safety measures.

Already this year it has hosted an active shooter training drill at Penn High School.

The district wants to offer school staff other safety tools beside that training.

No one ever wants to see disaster strike close to home, but district leaders say they need to think ahead.

"The drills are chilling. The real event is more chilling,” said Dr. Jerry Thacker, superintendent.

"The only way to be prepared is to be proactive and to continue to train appropriately for an appropriate response,” said Mike Seger, director of Safety and Student Services.

These leaders at PHM say an appropriate response doesn't end with the district. It has to be an entire community effort.

"Not only should we react to a situation and know how to react and how to respond, but I want to police fire and hospitals to respond effectively, proactively and immediately to any of our injured students, staff or patrons,” said Seger.

Training and practice aren't enough. PHM is also applying for free handheld metal detectors, being offered through a program at Governor Eric Holcomb's office.

"We're still discussing how they would be implemented and used within our schools, but at this point we're certainly happy to take any steps forward in the area of safety and security within our schools,” said Seger.

The district has also installed the "Crisis Go" app on all the staff computers at Penn High School. If a shooter enters the school, the app has a panic button that sounds an alarm.

It also allows staff members to talk without having to leave the safety of their classrooms.

"Be able to communicate classroom to main office, or classroom to security or classroom to classroom from that point,” said Seger.

"We want to make sure that we're well prepared so that we don't have to really live through that,” said Thacker. “We can reduce the probability of any bad incident occurring."

"As long as we can maintain that culture of safety within our schools, our students feel safe,” said Seger. “If our students feel safe coming to school they're going to perform. So we're looking at the academic excellence component and adding in safety as one of those components to increase our academic excellence."

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