Two security guards were hired at the Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting Tuesday night to provide enough guards to staff all district schools during early morning and after school hours.
Superintendent Steven Cohen said the two new guards were hired as a direct result of a concern raised by a SWR parent at a recent open forum on security in the district. A head security guard was also chosen at the meeting to review the district’s security policies and improve them.
“We continue to harden our buildings,” Mr. Cohen said.
The middle school’s entrance has been upgraded with more security measures and the high school’s entrance is being worked on now, he said. The district is moving forward with plans to install vestibules at schools across the district this summer and will also install panic buttons in all schools, he said.
The board is also exploring the use of a guardhouse on district property, Mr. Cohen said.
A police officer is working on a security assessment of the district, and the schools’ security team will attend a security conference held by Suffolk County police and Suffolk County Supervisor Steve Bellone on Wednesday, Mr. Cohen said.
The state education department has stated they will open up funding for security improvements on July 1, Mr. Cohen said. The district, if it moved forward with major upgrades before the summer, would then miss out on state aid.
School officials said they believe the state is trying to get districts to think carefully before addressing security needs.
District officials also said the district-wide camera project approved by voters several years ago was packed with the new track and safety proposition passed last year, and is awaiting state approval.
That camera system was designed long before the Sandy Hook shootings that inspired this latest round of security overhauls, said assistant superintendent of finance Glenn Arcuri.
“I just don’t want people to assume I could install cameras tomorrow,” he said.
ADMINISTRATOR’S UNION PREZ SLAMS SCHOOL BOARD OVER STATEMENT
The president of the district’s administrators association criticized the school board at Tuesday night’s meeting, saying they “pressured” the union into accepting a state-mandated performance review plan without negotiating by making public statements blaming them for potentially lost state aid.
Earlier this month, board president William McGrath said the district may lose nearly half a million in state aid because Steven Donohue, the president of the union, had not signed off on the performance review plan, known as an APPR.
Mr. McGrath said at the time that the union refused to negotiate with the board.
“These statements could not be farther from the truth,” said Mr. Donohue during public comments at Tuesday night’s meeting. “The board tried to make the public believe that we would not sign off on the APPR because it was an issue of money. This is not an issue of money, rather it has always been an issue of treating your administrators and employees with respect and professionalism.”
Mr. Donohue said that while teachers negotiated for about a year and a half on their APPR, the administrators were presented with the district’s plan on Nov. 27. The union filed a complain with the New York State Public Employees Relations Board claiming the district could not “unilaterally” impose an APPR plan without their agreement.
Mr. Donohue said he sent letters to the board offering to work out the APPR plan as well as the union’s contract, which expired in 2011.
Those calls, he said, were never returned.
“The message that has been sent by this board has been received loud and clear by this association,” Mr. Donohue said. “You do not value your administrators and the work we do each day within our schools.”
No board members responded to Mr. Donohue’s allegations at the meeting.
Mr. McGrath declined to comment, saying he needed to speak to his colleagues on the board first.
5.5% STATE AID INCREASE FOR SWR
Governor Andrew Cuomo has included in his tentative $142.6 billion spending plan released Tuesday a 5.5 percent increase in total state aid for the Shoreham-Wading River school district over this year.
According to the budget, the district would receive about $8,735,000 in state aid (see breakdown) for the 2013-14 school year, compared to the current school year’s $8,279,000.
Mr. Cohen said he looked at an overview of Mr. Cuomo’s budget but didn’t get a chance to read it full. He said he was glad to see SWR get more aid that the district was expecting and said the extra money would be added into budget discussions for the 2013-14 school year.
“That [aid] is money that we had not assumed, so that’s got to be factored into the revenue side [of the budget],” he said.
The governor’s budget has now been sent to the state Legislature.