Still grappling with the aftermath of the mass shooting in nearby Newtown, CT, the Bedford Central School District announced that the school board voted to fund hiring security personnel for the rest of the current school year.
The appropriation, listed on Wednesday's meeting agenda, is for using $200,000 in fund balance reserves. The security would be deployed at all schools in the district.
Left unanswered, however, is what form the security presence would take.
In a video of Wednesday's board meeting, Superintendent Jere Hochman said he is “open to all possibilities.” Such scenarios could include police, off-duty police, additional campus monitors - Fox Lane High School has had them before - or an outside security agency.
“I'm comfortable with any of those options right now for the outside of our buildings," he said in the video. Hochman did not say whether security detail would be armed, but he also did not rule it out.
The security would provide a presence for the perimeters of each building, Hochman was recorded as saying, describing a perimeter presence as "essential."
Since the shooting, Hochman explained in the video, police from Bedford, Mount Kisco and Pound Ridge have provided officers by schools.
In the video, Assistant Superintendent for Business Mark Betz explained that the problem with the current police presence, based on law enforcement feedback, is it is not sustainable for now. The added security presence, Betz then explained, may not be the same for every school building because of the varying nature of how each is structured.
Reached for comment by Patch, Hochman responded that a decision for details of the security will be made soon.
"This is being determined immediately," he explained. "The district’s Safety Committee discussed the options and I have received a lot of input from the community."
Hochman added that he and Betz will meet with local police chiefs on Friday to talk about the options.
In the meeting video, three parents spoke during public comment in favor of having police at the schools. Among them was John Sauro, a Pound Ridge father who is circulating a petition calling for police to patrol who want wants them permanently.
“There is no debate. You put police officers in the schools. That's where they belong.”
Meanwhile, the district announced that it has retained a security consultant company, Altaris Consulting Group, to do safety audits all of the district's buildings. The audits would be done over a 30-day time period. The consultant will also have a presence at Friday's meeting with Hochman, Betz and the police chiefs.
Key to Bedford Central's planning is the role of its existing Safety Committee, which met on Tuesday, the district said. The committee is chaired by Betz and includes people from backgrounds such as law enforcement, a school board member, principals, a mental health professional and parents. Its actions at the meeting, the district announced, included reviewing community feedback on security, reviewing the group's advisory role and considering measures to implement immediately.
The committee did come to a consensus for prioritizing the extra security and the safety audits. In the meeting video, however, it was explained that there was no consensus for having armed security.
The district will get a report with recommendations from its Safety Committee in about month, according to Hochman.