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North Allegheny School Board votes to hire two full-time school resource officers; discusses Franklin Elementary expansion

Julia Felton, Staff Reporter ~ April 25, 2018

The North Allegheny School Board discussed numerous issues, the most pressing of which included school resource officers and expanding Franklin Elementary School.  The school board voted to hire two full-time school resource officers—one at North Allegheny Senior High School and one at North Allegheny Intermediate High School.

According to the superintendent’s report, these officers’ responsibilities would include providing training opportunities to staff and students, conducting ongoing vulnerability analyses, and responding to critical conditions in the building.  The total annual cost will not exceed $225,000.  Prior to the school board’s vote, citizens and board members voiced their opinions on the issue.

Melinda Wedde, the mother of a North Allegheny student, said she was concerned about having a school resource officer.  She said that these officers only receive 40 hours of training, which she does not believe is adequate.   Wedde questioned whether these officers would be able to accommodate special needs children, though she did admit that this topic is covered in their training.

School board member Andrew Chomos and Superintendent Robert Scherrer tried to assuage concerns.  Chomos explained that accountability and communication would not be issues.  “These resource officers will be working in collaboration with faculty,” he said.

Superintendent Robert Scherrer assured everyone that resource officers would meet with parents to address any concerns.

Chamos added, “There are advantages to having a consistent presence in the schools representing the police.  Just implementing a consistency of approach for the children is a strong value.”

In addition to discussion on school resource offers, the school board debated an expansion project for Franklin Elementary School.

The fact that traffic feasibility studies have not yet been conducted worried numerous citizens.

Concerned citizens brought a petition with over 75 signatures, asking that their concerns regarding traffic feasibility studies be addressed before further work began on the project.

Kerri Fultz, the citizen who read the petition said, “Safety is a concern.”  She cited heavy traffic at drop-off and pick-up times as a potential problem.  Fultz also questioned whether emergency vehicles would be able to make it through potentially worsened traffic, noting that the local fire department is within a mile of the school.

School board member Libby Blackburn said, “I don’t think we’ve allowed enough community feedback.  Not having the traffic study yet is problematic to me.”

Proponents of this motion explained that the schools were already overcrowded and they wanted to move forward with the expansion project.

“I was amazed at the level of overcrowding in our elementary schools,” Chomos remarked.

Ultimately, the school board voted in favor of retention of the construction management consultant for the additions and renovations at Franklin Elementary.  However, Blackburn and Michael Meyer voted against the motion.

 

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