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Community safety forum held for Saratoga Springs City School District

December 17, 2018 11:27 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS – School safety and security remains a hot topic in the Saratoga Springs School District.

Monday night a community safety forum was held at the high school. There was a panel of district staff and security experts. The meeting comes after the Board of Education voted to disarm 14 grounds monitors.

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The group New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal presented its findings from a security assessment done on the district. The assessment showed the school does have a lot of good practices in place when it comes to safety and security. That includes a strong relationship with law enforcement agencies, dedicated resources to mental health services, and having a single point of entry and exit at buildings.

The assessment also came with some recommendations on how the school can improve. That included adding a School Resource Officer to the middle school. There is only one SRO in the district that is stationed in the high school.

"We do have three schools in the Town of Wilton, Greenfield, and Gansevoort so we would be partnering with the Sheriff's Department,” said Saratoga Springs School District Superintendent Michael Patton. “Those conversations are developing, a contract would be forth coming."

The group Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools said when it takes officer with the City of Saratoga Springs Police Department more than 7 minutes to respond to a non-police initiated call that should show the district there needs to be more support in the schools.

"The school district needs to step in and they need to pay to either have officers at every elementary school or give back our armed security guards,” said Karen Rosettie who created the group. “They do have a great relationship with the police department and Sheriff’s Office, but we don’t pay for those services, so the police department has an entire city they have to take care of, not just our schools.”

The group has also sent the Board of Education a letter from the parent of a young girl who died in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. It states he supports the group’s efforts to rearm the grounds monitors.

As soon as Monday night’s forum opened up for discussion between the panel and parents, one person asked are students safer now, or where they safer before with the armed monitors.

The Assistant Chief with the City of Saratoga Springs Police Department was the first to answer the question. He said he feels students are less safe without armed grounds monitors. But another panelist pointed out that people also have to look at the liability that comes with arming these mostly retired law enforcement officers.

For Rosettie, she said the next move for her and the group is to focus on getting new school board members.

"After tonight our focus is on the election,” explained Rosettie. “We're not going to attend another meeting, because we don't feel any confidence in our school board members."

Superintendent Patton said based on feedback Monday night from the community regarding adding another SRO, the board will likely begin discussing in January making that happen.

Credits

WNYT Staff

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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