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.”
Jere Zimmerman said the task force is interested in exploring grants and seeking business and private donations to pay for a security person.
During last year’s budget talks, superintendent Tom Newcome polled parents and researched costs. He said at that time parents were divided about whether to have an armed police presence on campus.
Newcome said the Pennsylvania State Police will provide a SRO for $70 per hour. At $630 per day, this would cost the district $113,000 annually.
He said a private agency could also provide an armed guard for $72,900 annually, or a trained but unarmed staff person could man secured sign-in stations at each school at a cost of $118,000 annually.
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