Even though the Board doesn’t vote on their annual budget for 8 months, the first battle over Octorara’s 2014-15 spending plan took place Monday evening. First in the facilities committee before Monday’s work session and then in the Board’s monthly work session, parents concerned about safety on campus and board members squared off in a mostly civil discussion about keeping kids and teachers safe on campus.
The board’s position is that the district has done so much already installing fences, gates, locks, cameras and alarms across the district to make the campus safer and more secure. Besides they say, except for the 6 or 7 parents at Monday’s Facility Committee Meeting, they’re not seeing the groundswell of support for spending more money on security.
The parents, led by Jere and Kim Zimmerman of Atglen, make a passionate case for an armed school resource officer (SRO) to patrol the district’s four buildings at a cost of forty-thousand dollars a year up to a high estimate of one hundred-thousand depending on who’s estimates are believed.
According to Kim Zimmerman 80% of Lancaster County school districts already employ an SRO.
In an article posted on Lancaster Online Tuesday, Debbie Wygent captures the gist of what thus far is a passionate yet friendly debate about the most appropriate and cost effective way ensure campus safety.
Some parents in the Octorara Area School District are once again lobbying the school board to hire a school resource officer or armed guard at a cost of up to $100,000 per year.
“Parents are very passionate about this issue,” Christiana resident Jere Zimmerman told the school board Monday.
Jere and Kim Zimmerman are among parents who have been speaking in favor of increasing school security since the Sandy Hook School shooting.
Although their efforts to add a SRO to the district payroll failed in last spring’s budget deliberations, the parents have not given up and are inviting more parents and community members to join in the conversation.
The Octorara Safety Task Force meets at 6:30 p.m. in the superintendent’s conference room the first Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be Dec. 3.
Whether to place a SRO or armed guard on campus “really needs to be a community discussion,” board president Lisa Bowman said Monday.
“I realize safety is a big issue,” said board member Nelson Stoltzfus. “I think this will be part of the budget discussions.”