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Unintended consequences seen in new state requirements


Quakertown Community School District is dealing with the unintended consequences of two state requirements.

The Safe 2 Say Something, a 24/7 anonymous tip line touted as a way to make schools safer, has cost the district time and resources, according to Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards.

Edwards told the school board that the Safe 2 Say program, while beneficial to some students, also requires school staff to check student tips daily, follow up on tips, and notify police if necessary.

Her report estimated that since its implementation six weeks ago, the program has required approximately 714 hours of staff time. “That’s all time that administrators aren’t doing their other duties,” Edwards said.

In its first six weeks of operation, the program has cost $71,000, and could exceed $250,000, which the state will not reimburse. “Hopefully it will drop off,” said board member Jonathan Kern. “It’s pretty rough to absorb that budget number.”

The tip line has also been marred by several hoaxes, the latest of which required police visits to district students’ homes and beefed up security this week at the Sixth Grade Center.

The district is also grappling with how to respond to a rise in student lunch debt, currently estimated at $18,000. Chief Operating Officer Zach Schoch told the meeting there was little the district could do to reduce it because the state mandated that all students receive a lunch regardless of their ability to pay.

Schoch said the district does send out letters to parents, but there are no specific consequences for district students.

Districts across the country have sought donations to eat up the debts, and in some cases turned bills over to a collection agency, but so far there has been no direction from Harrisburg on what to do about the issue.

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