The Riverhead Board of Education approved the hiring of a new security firm last Tuesday — the fourth time in the last five years that the district will start a year with a new head of security.
The board approved a one-year contract with Summit Security Services of Uniondale for an annual fee of $114,400.
Summit will provide an on-site security coordinator who will manage and head the district’s existing security staff. The new coordinator will also be responsible for helping the district hire new guards, retaining guards are already in place, creating emergency plans and facilitating relationships with local emergency service agencies, board member Greg Meyer said.
Mr. Meyer, who served as board president until July, said the district’s previous security firm, MR Safety Consulting Corp., decided not to renew its contract.
“The pros about the new company is that it’s a much bigger firm,” he said. “Summit Security is probably one of the biggest firms on the island. They have a lot more experience with school districts. The company we had last year, we were their only school district. So they were much smaller; this is much larger.”
MR Safety Consulting Corp. had been paid $90,000 by the district. In 2016-17, the district had engaged Covert Investigations Inc, at a cost of $75,000.
In 2015-16 the district hired a head of security by choosing an individual off the civil service test. He resigned six months into the job, in March 2015.
“Obviously, we’d love to have one person in charge,” Mr. Meyer said. “Any time you have one person in charge for a while there’s much greater stability. We’re lucky enough that our security guard staff, that are district employees, do an outstanding job. So as much as we want one person in charge I still give kudos to our security staff here … We’re hoping this firm is going to be the one that stays around.”
The district also approved a contract at last week’s meeting for a school resource officer, or SRO, from the Riverhead Town Police Department, who will work at all schools in Riverhead Town, Mr. Meyer said.
He added that the SRO is separate from the district’s security personnel and will have different daily functions.
“It’s important to know that the SRO will still report to his commanding officer in the police department,” Mr. Meyer said. “He will have separate duties from the security staff, but they will work hand in hand with each other.”
The Riverhead Town Board had voted unanimously earlier this month to authorize the agreement with the school district for the SRO. The cost of the officer will be split evenly between the town and school district, according to the agreement. The officer may carry weapons when authorized by the police chief.
Other security changes that will be enacted during the upcoming school year include requiring staff and students to wear ID cards on lanyards at all times during the school day. In addition, large bags will be checked at school events, such as sports games and assemblies, and patrons at events will be required to have ID on them — a school ID for students and a driver’s license for visitors.
“We have to start thinking differently than how we did in the past,” Mr. Meyer said. “It’s all about the safety of the students, staff and guests.”