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School board reevaluates elementary school security

December 26th, 2012

A group that submitted a petition to the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education asking that a security guard be reinstated at Gardnertown ETC Magnet School seems to have gotten their wish – at least for now.

According to Stacy Segali, co-president of the Gardnertown PTO, more than 200 parents and teachers signed the petition and hand-delivered it to Board of Education President Dawn Fucheck on Nov. 28. Ironically, their request was discussed by school board members during a workshop meeting just days before the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

“In today’s day in age school security is of utmost concern,” Segali said. “We need to have buildings that are secured, locked and monitored for the protection of our students and staff.”

After reminding audience members that the elementary security positions were eliminated this year due to budget cuts, Newburgh’s Assistant Superintendent of Finance Michael Pacella explained that there are several security guards stationed at Newburgh Free Academy as well as at each of the district’s middle schools and K-8 schools.

When school board member Susan Prokosch asked if the positions could be shifted around to provide more universal coverage, Pacella confirmed that resources could be reallocated according to the board’s wishes, but warned that doing so would create voids in coverage elsewhere.

Pacella assured everyone that the front doors of each building are or will be equipped with cameras and buzzers by the end of winter break, but agreed to conduct a risk assessment at each school to provide more insight into the issue.

After reviewing that risk assessment during a reguar meeting on Dec. 18, the school board passed a resolution authorizing Superintendent Ralph Pizzo to take immediate steps to “recall up to seven per diem security monitors each day to be deployed at the district’s elementary schools to insure a significant daily security presence at these schools.”

The measures will take effect immediately and continue until Jan. 22, 2013.

By Jessica Murray

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