An emergency preparedness application that has been funded through a $100,000 state grant for all Berks County school districts through the 2019-20 school year was the main topic of discussion during the March 11 meeting of Hamburg Area school directors.

"It's a tool to help make our students safer," said Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf.

Sen. Judy Schwank lead the efforts to make CrisisGo available to all county school districts.

CrisisGo can be accessed with a smartphone and provides information and communication between staff, first responders and parents.

The application allows staff to take attendance during an emergency, access student emergency contact information and complete parent reunification from a mobile device.

Maps of all buildings and evacuation plans are available on the mobile device.

"It allows us quicker access to information in real time instead of relying on a book," said Mextorf.

Mextorf praised administrators at each of the district’s buildings for their efforts regarding student safety, but recommended to school directors the need to have one dedicated person in the district to lead safety initiatives.

"We need to think more comprehensively and I feel confident we can bring you a 2019-20 budget with no tax increase," Mextorf said of creating a director of safety and security position.

In other news, representatives of The Bridge Church spoke to school directors about the drug crisis facing students and a suggestion on curtailing the problem.

"There are three parts to the drug problem," Larry Giancola said. "You need the addict, the supply (of drugs) and cash. We can't get rid of the addict or the supply, but we can get rid of the cash."

Giancola said that he'd like to see debit cards replace cash in the hands of students.

"Without cash there is no drug business," Giancola said.

Giancola said that he would like to see debit cards throughout the district, even elementary school.

"Get the cards into students’ hands and let it be known (that) there's no cash," Giancola said.

The next step is to invite a bank to a meeting, Giancola said.

After the meeting, Mextorf said that further study is needed.

"It's a good idea, but we need to look at this from all angles," Mextorf said.

The next meeting of school directors is Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the James A. Gilmartin Community Room.

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