Letter: Haldane Safety

The Haldane School Board met this week to discuss its budget for next year. There is a $330,000 deficit and reductions will be needed to balance it.

One of the cuts the board is considering is the elimination of the elementary school librarian/garden educator position to pay for an armed school peace officer (SPO) and an unarmed security attendant at the lower cafeteria entrance to the main building. These positions would be in addition to the current school resource officer (SRO), who is a Putnam County sheriff’s deputy.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the county has nine SROs. Each of the districts with more than one officer has about 1,700 students or more. Haldane has 827.

It is highly questionable whether adding an SPO and/or security attendant at Haldane will make our kids safer. It may assuage fears, but that is not the same thing.

We all want our children to be safe. This unites us as a community. There is nothing political about it. The unified response to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, was a call for action. But there is a lack of rigorous research and data on the effectiveness of a police presence in schools to reduce crime and protect students. According to a 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service, the research that is available draws conflicting conclusions.

The Haldane School Board claims that the public is calling for more police at the school. Is it true that the community wants to eliminate good educators in exchange for measures that haven’t been proven effective? Or are there a handful of loud voices grabbing the board’s attention?

Board members and Superintendent Diana Bowers are charged with making careful decisions. Sacrificing education for greater security when there is no evidence that it will keep our kids any safer is poor leadership.

There will be a board meeting on Tuesday, April 17, to finalize the 2018-19 budget. If you feel your voice is not being heard, I urge you to contact the board members and superintendent before then.

Sandy McKelvey, Cold Spring

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