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Philadelphia district plans to boost spending on school safety

Dec. 5, 2022
Recent school-related shootings have prompted the district to allocate more than $1.3 million to safety programs.

In the wake of shootings this year outside two high schools, Philadelphia Superintendent Tony Watlington has promised to invest more than $1.3 million into safety programs.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the district plans to focus safety improvements in five areas: expanding the Safe Paths Program; increasing safety zones around school communities; providing student and staff mental health services; evaluating attendance and dropout data; and addressing specific school needs.

"Safety has to be our No. 1 priority," Watlington says.

Chalkbeat Philadelphia reports that in September, five students were shot — one fatally — outside Roxborough High School after a football scrimmage. Then, on the day before Thanksgiving, four students were shot a few blocks from Overbrook High School.

The school district will spend $750,000 over two years on expanding the Safe Paths Program; it pays community members to keep children safe on their way to and from school. Watlington says the district also will spend more than $600,000 in grant funding to expand and enhance police safety zones around schools most affected by gun violence.

"It is our intent to have more sworn police officers,” the superintendent says. “Recent events — horrific, unacceptable events — tell us we need more law enforcement outside of our schools."

To provide greater mental health services to students, those in grades 6 through 12 will have access to an online mental health services agency that provides counselors and peer support. Strengthening school climate and ensuring good attendance will have ripple effects on issues like violence and poverty, Watlington says.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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