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JES Security Update

Security Update for Jefferson Elementary School
From: John Montanaro, Superintendent
To: Our Community
March 25, 2019

At the community conversation in 2018, parents and staff made it clear they would like two things to improve the safety of our schools.

Mental health support for the students
Making our schools a “hard target” i.e. a facility with armed security. There was discussion about shooters picking targets that are “soft targets” i.e. facilities where there are no armed safety personnel.

The discussion included having teachers carry guns or having armed officers in every building.

We iterated that our School Board was committed to the safety and health of our students and would put into place new security and health measures in a fiscally responsible manner.

For mental health services I met with Signature Health and Community Counseling to get proposals for servicing our district. We entered into a contract with Community Counseling to have a full-time case manager at every building.

Arming teachers was deemed too complex of an issue because it involved liability, training, legality etc. As to the placement of an armed officer in our two elementary buildings, I found out what it would cost to have a Jefferson Police Officer at Jefferson Elementary and a Sheriff Deputy at Rock Creek Elementary. I also spoke to a company out of Youngstown and found out that an armed and trained security officer was about ½ the cost of having a police officer or sheriff deputy at the elementary schools.

I met with Chief Wassie and Sheriff Johnson to discuss the hiring of an armed security officer option and received their approval.

We hired, on a trial basis, an Armed Security Officer to finish out the 2017-2018 school year at Rock Creek. It was an overwhelming success. Parents, staff and students were very happy and had built a great relationship with him.

As the district was moving forward with hiring two armed officers for the 2018-2019 school year, (one for Jefferson Elementary and one for Rock Creek), Chief Wassie approached me about bringing on a part time officer at Jefferson Elementary at a cost slightly more than an armed security officer.

Our district entered into a contract with the Village. In December 2018, Chief Wassie informed me he has been unsuccessful finding part time officers to fill the position. This forced him to assign a 32-hour officer to Jefferson Elementary School. The cost of having a 32-hour officer at the elementary school was considerably higher than the original contract. The district agreed to keep our arrangement status quo for the remainder of the year and revisit for the 2019-2020 school year.

Today I was informed that the Jefferson Police Department is unable to keep officer Greg in the schools for the remainder of this school year and that they will replace his position with an Auxiliary Police Officer. Workload and scheduling within the police department has caused this move.

The cost for a full-time Armed Security Officer for next school year is approximately ½ of the cost of a Police Officer or Sheriff Deputy.

After having an Armed Security Officer in place at Rock Creek Elementary for the past year, we have confidence that having an Armed Security Officer at Jefferson Elementary School is the right decision to make going forward. I believe the parents, staff and students of Jefferson Elementary will be just as happy as the Rock Creek school community has been.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, please feel free to contact me and we can set up a time to meet and discuss this further.

Admin JALSD Admin,
Mar 26, 2019, 10:54 AM