Penn. Auditor: Schools Need Emergency Communications

HARRISBURG -- More than one-fourth of all school districts in Pennsylvania don't have a district-wide emergency communications system, according to a survey released today by the state auditor general.

Auditor General Jack Wagner testified before the Senate Education Committee on the results of a survey sent to all 722 public school entities, including school districts, intermediate units and technical schools in the state. Two-thirds of these schools filled out and returned the survey.

The survey found that although 89 percent of responding districts have a comprehensive security plan, there are problems in the communication and implementation of safety procedures.

Wagner said the greatest need for improving school security is for top school district officials and all district employees to be involved in safety plans. He also stressed that districts need to keep communication with local law enforcement officials open.

"Everyone within the school district must totally embrace the plan," Wagner said. "If not, it won't work."

The survey also found that nearly half of all districts do not have a visitor identification policy for those entering school buildings.