A deal to bring an added layer of security to Somerset school district passed unanimously Monday night during Somerset Borough’s monthly meeting.
School and borough officials have been working for months on details of a plan to add a security resource officer to the district’s hallways. Talk about the officer picked up after the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Twenty-six people were killed.
The agreement is still waiting on the approval of Somerset Township Supervisors for police coverage for Maple Ridge Elementary, which is located in the township.
But borough solicitor Jack Dirienzo suggested that council OK the agreement between the school and the borough. He said the township could join the agreement at a later date.
District Superintendent Krista Mathias said during a telephone interview after the meeting that the school board is waiting on legislation in Harrisburg to see how much money will be available through school safety grants. She said that hopefully the grants will be in place by the time the school budget is finalized in late June.
“I like to see the officer in the schools as soon as possible, but the school board is looking at starting in the beginning of May,” Mathias said. If the officer starts in May, the salary will be taken from the general fund.
Direnzo said the police protection would extend to all the schools within the borough and to the elementary school during special circumstances.
Police Chief Randy Cox said coverage could begin as soon as possible.
“Currently we have an officer out due to an injury and that would make keeping an officer at the school for the week difficult. Right now, we are waiting until staffing is available,” Cox said.
The position will cost $32 an hour. A portion of the rate pays for gear and other items necessary for coverage.