PENN TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A school district in York County made a decision on whether to hire armed security guards.
South Western School District in York County voted in favor of hiring armed security guards for each of their 6 schools.
Although not one school board member voted against hiring armed guards, residents did have some questions — like how effective can armed guards be? And should the school board consider prevention rather than the added protection?
How much can armed guards help in an active shooter situation? That’s a question some residents had for the South Western School Board in Penn Township.
"It's always going to be hard to know, knowing that this district, wherever it may be, had armed guards - was that a deterrent from someone coming in," said Vanessa Berger, the president of the school board.
It's a deterrent the school board still deemed valuable.
They voted unanimously, 8-0, in favor of contracting with G-Force Investigations.
Those contracted officers will carry just a handgun and have a presence in each of the district’s 6 schools.
The first year of a 2-year contract with G-Force will cost roughly $398,000, according to the school board meeting agenda.
For some taxpayers, the cost of protection doesn’t matter.
"Whatever the expense is to ensure when I send my kid off to school, I know they’re safe. That’s all that matters," said Doreen Grab. "I think it sends the message we are prepared, we are taking action to make sure out kids are always safe."
Not everyone at the meeting totally supported the idea. Some questioned if there’s a better way to keep kids safe.
"I think prevention would be more sustaining that just protection," said one resident.
The school board president and superintendent say this is just the first step of additional safety measures to come to South Western School District.
"We really look at this as one piece of the possible solution; there are so many factors that go into the safety and security of our students," explained Berger.
"Much of the problem begins and ends with children not being kind to one another, so we’re gathering our resources, looking at community partnerships to begin that conversation, and it will be ongoing," said Jay Hartw
Besides the officers, the superintendent announced the district plans to better secure the middle and high school entrances.
They’re also planning a 'Be the Change' community forum for later this year to talk about ways to stop bullying.