WESTFIELD, NJ - A resolution to keep an armed police officer with the title of School Resource Officer (SRO) in district schools was approved and an award-winning technology teacher was acknowledged at the Westfield Board of Education meeting Tuesday.
“The majority of the school resource officer’s time is spent in the high school,” said District Supervisor of Counseling Maureen Mazzarese.
Westfield Officer Jeffrey Johnson has been the district’s SRO since last September and, according to Mazzarese and Westfield High School Assistant Principal Jim DeSarno, he has helped students in ways beyond ensuring their safety.
“He’s a big help,” said DeSarno. “He’s a huge resource with trends of substance abuse and law.”
Despite concerns about an armed officer making students nervous, Mazzarese stated that she saw no increase in anxiety among the students but rather the inverse. She also said that his gun “stayed in his holster.”
Board member Mitchell Slater voiced opposition to having an armed officer in the schools and said that he was disappointed that Johnson had not come to the meeting in person.
“I continue to believe it’s just not worth the risk,” said Slater.
Slater was the only member to vote against the resolution.
Technology Education teacher Sean Bonasera was acknowledged at the meeting for winning the award for Excellence by the New Jersey Technology & Engineering Educators Association.
“I am a strong believer in hands-on learning,” said Bonasera.
Bonasera teaches at Edison Intermediate School and started the eighth-grade robotics program as well as the award-winning robotics club. Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan nominated him for the award.
“Bonasera lives and breathes technology education,” said Dolan.