AIA Pennsylvania Testifies at House Education Committee Hearing on School Safety

Harrisburg, PA (March 15, 2018) – AIA Pennsylvania testified at last week’s House Education Committee hearing on school safety in Pennsylvania. House Education Committee Chairman Dave Hickernell (R-Lancaster/Dauphin) and Minority Chairman James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia) broke the hearing out into four witness panels:

  1. Current Landscape of School Safety
  2. Views of Pennsylvania Education Organizations
  3. National Approaches to School Safety
  4. Recommendations to Improve School Safety

AIA Pennsylvania School Construction and Education Subcommittee member A. Stevens Krug, AIA, PE, LEEDap, AEE Fellow was among four experts who lent their voice to “Recommendations to Improve School Safety” panel.

A 35 year veteran of school design, Krug advocated for the establishment of a statewide emergency plan for the design and configuration of school buildings and security infrastructure, and the publishing of an assessment tool to use as a guideline for school districts to gauge priorities. He suggested a group to develop these assets include architects, contractors, teachers, students, and law enforcement and specifically drew on the age of Pennsylvania schools with 65 percent built before 1970 and far too many not seeing upgrades or “even the most basic safety measures.”

Krug reiterated there is an important balance between designing to protect students and designing to nurture learning, but emphasized tangible steps can be taken by teaming together, also mentioning PlanCon as a potential funding source for such updates. “AIA Pennsylvania recommends updated safety assessments that focus on school facilities in the Commonwealth to gain a better understanding of the scope of work that needs to be done to secure our schools,” he closed. “Our members have the tools and resources to help collaborate with school districts and law enforcement to guide communities and safely secure their schools.” Coverage of Steve’s testimony is courtesy of Pennsylvania Legislative Services. AIA Pennsylvania also submitted written testimony to the Senate Education Committee which can be read here.

On the same day as House Education Committee hearing, Governor Wolf and Auditor General DePasquale visited Penn Wynne Elementary School in Montgomery County to announce the creation of a School Safety Task Force. “Ensuring the safety of Pennsylvanians, especially our children, is my top priority as governor,” said Governor Wolf. “I am creating a school safety task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure that our schools are a safe place for our children to learn. By working together and listening to those on the front lines, we can find solutions that will improve school safety, security, and preparedness.”

Auditor General DePasquale emphasized, “There is not a one-size-fits all solution to school safety. We will use our combined expertise to raise the bar for safe schools in Pennsylvania because we must provide a safe learning environment for our current students and protect future generations.”

AIA Pennsylvania is actively pursuing a spot on the School Safety Task Force ensuring architects are at the table to raise our collective voice with a unique skillset that serves the health, safety, and welfare of students, educators, and communities across the Commonwealth.