Philadelphia School District to increase safety measures

Photo credit Holli Stephens

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Prompted by recent gun violence, the Philadelphia School District is taking steps to increase security inside and outside of schools.

Superintendent Tony Watlington released a statement Friday, outlining five additional safety measures they plan to implement.

“When the strategic plan is finalized, I want to make sure that Philadelphians can say, ‘This is our plan,’ not Tony Watlington’s plan.”

Watlington said more than $600,000 in grant funding would be used to expand Philadelphia police patrols beyond the 27 “Safety Zones” around 40 schools. The district also plans to spend $750,000 to add 12 schools to its Safe Paths program.

We just have to have more police officers around some of our schools,” Watlington said. “So we’re working with the Philadelphia Police Department to identify where are the places we need to expand first.”

Through Kooth services, a virtual, internationally recognized mental and emotional health initiative, the district will offer online mental health services to students, grades six through 12.

Watlington says the district will address the culture at individual schools, where needed, and closely analyze attendance and dropout data because those who attend school regularly are “less likely to drop out or be victims of or perpetrators of violence.”

The district is seeking applications from 25 parents and guardians to join an advisory group to provide input on Watlington’s five-year plan.

“I want to encourage parents to go online and sign up because they have an opportunity to shape the future of the district.”

Applications open Monday, Dec. 5, and close Dec. 18. Parents can apply online.

“We will not do what a lot of school districts continue to do,” Watlington said. “And that's just layer stuff on top of stuff, and then on top of stuff. So we have to have a strategic abandonment tool or strategy.”

The district’s five-year strategic plan is expected to be released next spring.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Holli Stephens