Valley Central School District looking to add 10 security officers

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MONTGOMERY — Beginning in September, schools in Valley Central may see some new faces from police as the city offers to beef up school security after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

There are seven schools in the Valley Central district. The municipality has two part-time agents assigned as school resource agents in middle school and high school.

City Supervisor Brian Maher said the city and school district agreed that every school building should have an armed presence to protect children.

“The recent school shootings that have taken place across our country have prompted us all to look within to see what we can do to keep our children safe,” Maher said.

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The plan is to add a full-time SRO to the district, who would be a lead investigator for incidents that occur in the district and provide security for summer schools and special events. The city is also aiming to add at least 10 part-time armed police officers to provide security at Valley Central Elementary Schools and the Alternative Learning Center. The total cost would be around $300,000.

Maher said the city and school district would split the cost of the program. For example, the city would pay for the hiring and retention of officers, as they could also work shifts for city police.

A Montgomery City Police car.

While some parents favor adding more safety to schools, others are calling for careful consideration of applicants’ qualifications and comprehensive training.

Lisa Ruiz, a founding member of Valley Central Parents for Social Justice, questioned whether the city was the best agency to lead the effort and how to ensure new officers would appropriately serve students of color. She suggested assigning village agents who have already established trust with the community.

“I am not against having more security in schools. But if we’ve ever had minority students come to us and tell us how they’re being targeted by ORS, we need to make sure the new officers are the right people, have the right motivation, and they don’t. have biases,” Ruiz said.

Maher said providing armed officers is a baseline and the goal is to ensure positive relationships with students. Just because the city takes the lead on security doesn’t preclude each village police department from relying on its own community engagement, he said.

He said the school board provided verbal support to ask the city to move the process forward. The city is currently drafting agreements with the district and hiring staff to ensure the plan is in place before the start of the school year.

Helu Wang covers education for the Times Herald-Record. Contact her at [email protected]

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