MONROEVILLE, Pa. – The Gateway School Board takes student safety seriously, so they’re putting armed police officers in all schools to ensure they’re protected.
The board voted 7-2 Tuesday to hire several retired police officers to help the two trained officers who currently patrol the district’s seven school buildings, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
“The new plan will place eight part-time officers in the high school and keep on full-time officer in one middle school, while adding two part-time officers at the other middle school,” according to the news site. “It will also add two part-time officers at each of the district’s four elementary schools.”
“Overall, it’s the safety of the kids, the safety of the staff, the safety of the teachers, when we look at this,” board president Chad Stubenbort told WTAE. “This is really just making sure that as a board we’re doing everything possible we can.”
Stubenbort said board members included the plan to add officers in the district’s balanced $71.3 million budget, a move that follows other districts in the area that have done the same, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
Butler Area School District assistant principal Glenn Raymer, who lives in Monroeville, told the board at its Tuesday meeting that his school district made the same decision in 2012, and it’s provided piece of mind.
“The best way to defend our kids was to make sure guys who were well trained, who had the ability, were armed and could face any threat,” he said. “Internal threat, external threat. Bottom line, we want to make sure our kids are safe.”
Others who attended the board meeting questioned whether the change is necessary.
“We’ve got a problem with guns and the way to secure buildings … is not to have somebody in there with a gun also,” resident David Beistel told the board, according to the news site. “I agree with him that you might have a trained professional there, but with a gun? In a school?”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
The district plans to look into hiring retired police officers to fill the positions and all must take a 40-hour school resource officer training, will have to pass a psychiatric test and take ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training.
One of the board members who voted against adding the armed officers, Stephanie Byrne, said she was not opposed to the idea, but preferred to have active officers, rather than retired officers, patrolling schools, which would require the police department, rather than the school district, to ensure they have the proper training.
“I will certainly do my due diligence to ensure that the school police officers are as best trained as they can be,” Byrne told CBS Pittsburgh.
Stubenbort told the Post-Gazette that the current officer at Gateway Middle School, Mike Morency, will return next year under an agreement with the Pitcairn Police Department, but the district will release Monroeville Police officer Mark Kandrack because Monroeville declined to subsidize his salary by $25,000. The school district currently pays $75,000 toward Kandrack’s salary, Stubenbort said.
“He added that salary and benefits for each Gateway school police officer will add up to about $27,000,” according to the news site.
The board estimates the new officers will cost about $325,000 and district officials hope to have the officers in place by next school year, CBS Pittsburgh reports.