BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday will vote whether to sign an agreement with the Board of Education to partner in providing special police officers in township schools, according to a resolution listed on Tuesday night's meeting agenda.

The resolution does not specify which schools the officers would be stationed within, but notes that "the township and the board agree that school security is of the utmost importance to create a safe learning environment for students."

Cost to be shared by township and school district, BOE to consider agreement this month [information added]

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The township would hire the police officers, the resolution states. On Monday Township Administrator Pat Monaco said in an email that the cost would be shared, with the Board of Education paying for the salary component and the township paying for all other ancillary costs, such as training, guns, ammunition, vests, and providing the police vehicle.

The intent is to hire two to three officers officers to fill a 35-hour total work week, Monaco said. This would allow flexibility for accommodations such as sick time, he added.

Monaco also said the agreement is due to be considered by the Board of Education at the board's Aug. 27 meeting.

School resource officers would remain at Ridge and Annin [information added]

School resource officers who are regular officers within the Bernards police department are already assigned to Ridge High School and at the William Annin Middle School, and will remain in those schools, Monaco said on Monday.

The memorandum of agreement to be considered by the Township Committee on Tuesday night addresses the hiring of "a new class of Special Police Officers known as Special Police Officer III (SLEOIII) specifically and solely for the purpose of school security" as created by state law.

Bernards Township and the Board of Education are in agreement that having a Special Class III police officer "who is specifically trained for school security is a best practice for the safety and security of the students, faculty, staff and visitors to district schools," the resolution states.

School security a nationwide priority since February

Mirroring a nationwide discussion, school and township officials have shown heightened concern about school security since 17 people, including students and staff, were killed after being gunned down by a former student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last February 14.

The memorandum of agreement up before the Township Committee this week would direct the township, through the police department, to hire and make available a "designated number" of special school officers "as determined to be necessary to the Bernards Township school district." 

The committee will be voting on Tuesday on whether the township will enter into the agreement. The meeting at which the resolution would be approved is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the main meeting room at town hall at 1 Collyer Lane in Basking Ridge.