Security guards now armed at Butler Area School District following Newtown tragedy

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PITTSBURGH - In wake of Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., school leaders locally and across the nation are reviewing and making changes to security procedures.

Last week, the Butler Area School Board voted in favor of arming their security officers. Channel 11 News has learned that the district will now have at least one armed guard at each of its schools on duty beginning Monday.

The goal is that when the next school year begins, all security guards will be armed.

Butler Area Superintendent Michael Strutt said that his 7,500-student district has an armed officer in each of its 11 elementary and three secondary schools on Monday.

"Today as school started, we have armed officers in all 14 schools in the Butler Area School District. We plan to have that on a daily basis from now on," Strutt said.

That district's board voted Dec. 10 to begin a months-long process to arm its police. But Strutt says the district got the court order to "expedite the process" after the Connecticut shooting.

“Our solicitor met with the present judge over the weekend and he signed an order giving permission for our police officers to carry their own weapons,” Strutt said. “If they weren’t qualified on their own weapons, they went this weekend to qualify.”

An increased police and school security presence is expected at school across the country. District leaders have asked parents and the public to be on alert and report any suspicious behavior in and around schools.

“I feel that the way society is today, safety is an issue wherever we go. At any time they can protect our children, so I think it’s a good thing,” parent Michelle Leon said.

According to the Beaver County Times, leaders in the Beaver, Blackhawk and Central Valley school districts are reviewing their security systems with law enforcement experts.

An increased police presence was on hand at the main Seneca Valley campus on Monday as well.

Superintendent Dr. Tracy Vitale said Monday that the school is aware of a rumor that a "hit list" could be put into action at the school on Friday.

"We are aware of the rumor that has surfaced in the high schools. We have investigated, and it remains an allegation with no credible source," Vitale said.

Jackson Township Police Chief Terry Seilhammer said he wanted to keep students and their parents informed.

"We have to be prepared. We looked at everything and talked to everyone involved until we got to the bottom of it. There is nothing to it," Seilhammer said.

Some schools are also offering counselors to talk to children about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

For more on the Connecticut elementary school shooting, click here.