BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee has pledged to hire and equip the school district's first specially trained school security officers, to be stationed at Ridge High School, while the Board of Education is expected to vote on Aug. 27 whether to pick up the salaries of the the part-time officers.
The Township Committee was first to approve the agreement between the municipality and school district at its Aug. 14 meeting.
The plan is to hire two to three part-time special police officers to replace the school monitor who currently is posted at the entrance to Ridge High School, said Township Administrator Pat Monaco.
The Board of Education will have flexibility in how to deploy the officers, Monaco said at last week's Township Committee meeting.
The officers will be part of a new class of special police officers, known as Special Police Officer III (SLEOIII, that was recently created by state law "specifically and solely for the purpose of school security," according to the resolution unanimously approved by the Township Committee.
Bernards Township and the Board of Education are in agreement that having special officers "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.
Monaco said that the Board of Education will fund the approximate $50,000 cost of paying the special police officers, while eliminating the position of the employee who now sits at the high school entrance.
He said that the municipality will likely spend about $4,000 to $5,000 for incidental costs in outfitting the officers. Township officials said that the township will not be required to purchase new police vehicles for the school security officers.
Mayor John Carpenter said the township police department would be in charge of vetting the new officers, with input from the Board of Education into the hiring process.
School and township officials have been meeting to discuss school security since soon after 17 people _ both staff and students _ were gunned down and killed by a former student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last February 14.
School resource officers to remain at Ridge and Annin
School resource officers who are already members of 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 prior to last week's meeting.