Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:35PM - 326 Views

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If police cars seemed more visible than usual as you drove by schools or dropped students off Monday, it wasn't your imagination.

Area districts asked local or state police to increase patrols around schools in the wake of Friday's tragic shootings at a Connecticut elementary school.

Police were out front when I came in today, Pittston Area Superintendent Michael Garzella said. There was a police cruiser at our Intermediate Center this morning as well.

We had state troopers just kind of rove through our parking lots this morning, Northwest Area Superintendent Ronald Grevera said. We want to put our parents and students at ease without sensationalizing this.

Dallas Superintendent Frank Galicki said Dallas Township Police Chief Bob Jolley had contacted the district to note the state has advised districts to have increased patrols after the shootings in Connecticut. Township police did beef up patrols at the district schools.

Galicki also said the state has asked districts to review existing lock-down procedures and report any suspicious activities to state and local law enforcement. He and other superintendents said they are following that advice.

Garzella said the idea is to increase security and assure students without overdoing it. We just want to get our kids back into their routine. If they have any questions, we'll answer them appropriately.

Most superintendents interviewed echoed the sentiment, though Galicki said staff did have conversations with students about the Connecticut shooting.

We tell them we don't know why it happened, we can't guarantee it can't happen here, but we're doing everything we can to make it safe, he said. He also was preparing a voice message to be delivered to parents through the district's automated phone call system.

Grevera said Northwest Area just went through an evaluation with the state police, and it is participating in a security audit program being coordinated by the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, an agency that provides a variety of services to area school districts.

Most local districts either have conducted the audit or are slated to do so next year.

Northwest Area also won a small state Safe Schools grant, an announcement that was made by the state Department of Education on Friday, the day of the Connecticut shootings.

Grevera said such grants in the past have gone toward security cameras and other security enhancements, and that the new grant will be spent along the same lines.

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