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Philadelphia schools investing $1 million in safety programs

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Rising gun violence in and around Philadelphia schools is leading the school district to invest more than $1 million in additional safety measures.

“This is a crisis,” Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington said, “and it requires a coordinated response from both the city, law enforcement and the school district.”

Watlington is laser-focused on increasing safety measures surrounding city schools. Recent incidents of gun violence claiming a student’s life and injuring several others are bringing the dire need for protection to the forefront.

“After the experiences at Overbrook High School and Roxborough High School,” Watlington said, “it just made us think even more about to the extent that we just need more law enforcement presence outside of schools.”

Watlington is laying out his plan to address student safety and staff safety, including expanding the Safe Paths program that enlists the help of community members to provide extra supervision for students traveling to and from school.

“We’re looking forward to expanding our Safe Path program because it works,” Watlington said. “We need more of it. So we are going to invest another $750,000 and expand to 12 additional to-be-determined schools based on what the data are telling us. [We’re] going to invest an additional $600,000 into school safety zones.”

The increased safety plan also includes:

  • providing student and staff mental health services
  • addressing specific school needs by assessing the culture of every school and adding support staff as needed
  • Evaluating attendance and dropout data, which school officials believe may lie at the core of rising gun violence

“Kids who are successful academically, have good attendance and who don’t drop out of schools are less likely to be victims or perpetrators of gun violence,” Watlington said.

Watlington also announced a new initiative to have parents be involved in a strategic plan advisory group to help shape the future of the school district. Parents can apply on the school district’s website.

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