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New security measures set to take effect

MIFFLINTOWN — Visitors to Juniata County School District will soon undergo a new process when they enter buildings when school is in session.

Juniata Elementary School Principal Aaron Bennett, who serves as the district’s safety and security director, presented the board of directors with information about the district’s new School Gate Guardian system Wednesday during its workshop meeting.

School Gate Guardian is a kiosk system in which visitors will insert their state-issued identification. The machine will then scan the National Sex Offender database and print a badge, which includes the visitor’s name, the reason they are in the building, the time and date.

Newer versions of the badge will be void after 12 hours, Bennett said.

Visitors without state-issued identification will be escorted throughout the building.

The machine was purchased through Safe Schools Grant funding.

In other business, Travis Quici, the district’s athletic director, presented a proposal to eliminate the co-op with East Juniata and Juniata High School for its volleyball team, stating that he felt there were enough players to support a team for each school.

He said the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 4 and District 6 have given preliminary approval, pending board approval.

Quici said the co-op currently has 38 players — nine from East Juniata and 27 from Juniata — making it difficult for players to practice.

“An individual program at EJ would benefit both schools. We have really strong numbers. The fact that we have that many student athletes participating when they’re not having the success that they would on the court — I think that really says something about our kids,” Quici said. “With two coaches and almost 40 girls, it’s very difficult for them to get the skill that they would need to be competitive… If we had two different programs, it would allow that to happen.”

Quici continued, saying some East Juniata girls have been deterred from joining the team because of the number of players currently in the program.

If approved, there would be two teams starting next fall.

Board member Danny Snyder said he felt that there were enough players to support splitting the team.

However, board member Amy Wagner said while she supports the idea of having two teams, she has financial concerns that are based on a cost estimate of about $20,000 that Quici provided.

“I am a huge advocate for sports, but I will ask that board that if we are going to consider this…and the board is going to approve it, then we need to look at this coming budget season. If we’re not willing to increase taxes then how are we going to support this?”

Wagner explained that the board “barely” passed this year’s budget, which included a $31,000 — or one-eighth mill — tax increase.

Also discussed was Rachel’s Challenge, a presentation that was heard by students and made available to the public at East Juniata High School Sept. 26. The program is named for Rachel Scott, one of the first students killed during the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, and promotes the spread of kindness to others.

“It was very well received,” said East Juniata High School Principal Wendy Jerrehain, who said about 130 students wanted to be a part of the training and begin developing a Friends of Rachel’s Club, which would continue the program’s mission to promote kindness.

The board held an executive session to discuss personnel issues after the meeting.

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