the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, according to the Ridgewood Board of Education ,“neither the Superintendent nor the Board has ever indicated to the Village Manager that the school District would contribute to this position and the Village budget reflects this understanding. Accordingly, the Board has not reneged on any agreements.”
In recent email correspondence with Village tax payers the BOE went on, ” We were unaware that this matter would come up in the Village Council meeting on Wednesday. Board of Education policy is to discuss issues of related to school security in Executive Session due to the highly confidential nature of the subject. After reviewing the meeting tape, we would offer the following comments on what was discussed:
The RBOE is clear that the health and safety of our students and employees is paramount to our mission. The Board of Education appreciates the Village Council’s offer to assign a current patrol officer as a School Resource Officer (SRO) to the District. The Board has told the Village that it wants to participate in this program and that the officer will have the full cooperation with the schools. There is no disagreement over the creation of the position.
Recent comment at a Council meeting focused on who should pay for the position.
The police officer proposed is currently serving in the Ridgewood Police Department (RPD) and is being paid for through the Village 2018 operating budget. Because this position is currently fully funded within the Village budget and there is no provision for it in the school budget, the Board declined to contribute at this time. The Board agreed to relook at the funding in the next budget cycle.
Some perspective on what was proposed by the Village: The suggested charge to the District of one half of a single officer’s cost is approximately the cost of a full-time teacher including benefits. For the District to assume this cost after the 2018-2019 budget has been finalized only shifts the funds from the schools to the municipal government. There would be no saving to the taxpayers of Ridgewood. In the past the District has had an SRO that was paid within the Village budget. During the 2010 budget cycle due to state aid cuts, the position was eliminated and not restored. Since then, neither the Superintendent nor the Board has ever indicated to the Village Manager that the school District would contribute to this position and the Village budget reflects this understanding. Accordingly, the Board has not reneged on any agreements.
The creation of an SRO position is not a direct school safety issue, because the SRO’s primary duties are educational in design. The officer will visit our schools, provide a visible police presence and liaise with students, teachers, parents and administration. The District already has a School Security Officer on staff whose assignment is to advise on security and safety matters. He has been very constructive in implementing numerous school safety initiatives. By their nature, many are not appropriate for public discussion. However, anyone interacting with schools is aware of the new visitor identification procedures that will be implemented this fall. The only circumstance in which the SRO would provide supplemental physical security would be if an incident were to occur at the very time and place where the SRO happened to be.
An SRO from the ranks of the RPD reports to the Chief of Police and is not supervised by the Board, Superintendent or other employees of the District. In the event of an emergency in the schools, the RPD rapidly responds within minutes to any of our buildings. Conversely, in the event of an incident outside of school property, the SRO, as a member of the RPD, is likely to be called away from the schools.
The Board of Education believes it has a fundamental responsibility to provide our children a safe & secure facility in which to learn. While an SRO can be a good teaching resource and addition to our schools, the psoition is not solely a security issue.
Vince Loncto, Jim Morgan, Christina Krause & Jennie Smith-Wilson “