Franklin Regional superintendent named to statewide School Safety & Security Committee
As the summer nears its end, Franklin Regional Superintendent Gennaro Piraino is not just embarking on a new school year, but also on a multi-year journey that will see him exploring safety and security throughout the state’s school system.
Piraino was the sole career educator named to the state’s School Safety and Security Committee, created in late June and tasked with establishing criteria for conducting school safety and security assessments, finding qualified agencies to conduct those assessments and developing a safety/security survey that will be distributed to Pennsylvania schools.
“I envision my role as advocating for health, safety and welfare, not just at Franklin Regional but for students and staff across the commonwealth,” Piraino said, “so they have access to the strategies and practices that promote a safe and rich learning environment.”
Piraino was nominated by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, or PASA, and appointed to a four-year term by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Click here for a listing of committee members. Click here to read the full text of Act 44.
The committee -- which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency -- will also be tasked with disbursing $60 million in grant funding aimed at improving safety and security throughout public schools.
“With that funding, $7 million will go to community violence-prevention initiatives, $12.5 million will be disbursed in the form of $25,000 grants for every school district, and the remaining $40 million will be a formula-based distribution throughout the school system,” Piraino said.
The committee, which has met once so far, is working to determine how that formula will work.
Piraino’s appointment coincides with the Franklin Regional school board’s recent vote to hire Timothy Skoog as its director of safety and security. As part of Act 44, which created the committee, every school district must appoint a safety and security coordinator by Aug. 31.
Skoog is a former Allegheny County deputy sheriff, spent 14 years with the FBI in its Pittsburgh office, and has served as assistant director for the Gateway School District’s internal police department.
Franklin Regional officials are in the process of establishing their own internal police force.
“It was our goal to have someone with extensive experience, not only in law enforcement but also in providing those services in a school environment,” Piraino said. “He has an extensive background in law enforcement, and in developing a police force in schools.”
Piraino said he hopes the committee’s assessment of statewide school safety can “establish a baseline for safety and security while still allowing flexibility for local districts to make their own determinations for their schools.”
He is also looking forward to input from fellow PASA members.
“When I look at what superintendents deal with on a daily basis, I know safety and security is at the forefront in their minds, and I hope to learn a great deal from them as far as what is working and what’s not in terms of safety for all students.”
The committee will meet next on Sept. 26.