Yesterday, it was officially announced at the Facilities Committee Meeting, and then again at the School Board Work Session Meeting, that the Octorara Area School District has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the state for security personnel.
It is understood that the funds can only be used for an armed School Resource Office, a police officer, or other armed or unarmed security personnel. It is not believed the funds can be used to enhance the schools’ security infrastructure (ballistic glass, solid core doors, locking systems, closed circuit television monitoring).
There are several major concerns at this point:
- Grant money is limited, and not an ongoing revenue source… which means taxpayers will eventually pay the bill,
- There is a question of if this type of security personnel is necessary…. schools like Octorara have very low occurrences of violence, and gun violence is undeniably improbable,
- There is a question of if this type of security personnel actually works… several citizens have either stated there is no research supporting or have asked if the District has found any research supporting this type of security personnel as effective, and
- While there is a vocal group supporting the push for security personnel, there does not seem to be support coming from a large percentage of parents and taxpayers.
This is your opportunity to speak out for or against this spending. The Board has not made a decision to use an armed School Resource Officer, or even to accept the grant. The Safety Task Force meets at the District Office the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30pm. You are also invited to speak at any School Board Meeting. You can also call or write School Board members.
Daniel Carsley, Business Manager, presented an update for the next Budget. The District will receive an additional roughly $11,000 more than originally expected for Basic Education, and an increase of more than $6,000 for Special Education. Additionally, there will be $350,000 in additional grant based revenue. Also expected (not yet absolute) is the District’s contribution to retirement may be reduced from 21.4% of salaries to around 19%.
The next Finance Committee Meeting will be Monday, February 17th, at 5:30pm in the District Office Conference Room. These are open meetings, and the public is encouraged to attend.
Long Range Planning
The Facilities Committee was presented with a spreadsheet, by Mr. Carsley, based on the report of long range maintenance issues presented to the committee last month. Some items were already included in the Draft Budget, and the District also has over $2 Million in the Capital Fund. The spreadsheet does not dictate what will be done. It provides a visualization of the recommendations.
Other Facilities Issues
An expert is expected to look at the efflorescence at the PLC. We should have recommendations by the next meeting.
The High School Auditorium Handicapped Area continues to be an issue. In the past, track lighting had become an issue. That problem was addressed, but the area continues to be a tripping hazard. The District is exploring a railing system to resolve the problem.
During the past week’s winter weather issues, the District was without power for one day without any other major issues. Because of accumulation, and with more snow in the forecast, the District is facing the problem of where to put more snow.
The School Board was visited by a Junior Girl Scout Troop pursuing their Inside Government Badge. Molly, a 4th Grader at the OES, asked the Board during Visitor Comments, if they will have to make up all the snow days?
Elena Wilson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, answered Molly’s question. The District is required to provide students with 180 days of school by June 30th. The District will be making recommendations to the Board to accomplish this goal.