More school security measures to be considered during budget votes
School safety is front and center as taxpayer’s head to the polls on May 15 to vote on school budgets.
In February 17 people were killed in a tragic shooting in Parkland Florida. Immediately following that incident many superintendents in our community started taking action including Dr. Christopher Brown from the West Genesee school district.
“My job as superintendent every day, every waking minute its thinking about students being safe and happy and all of that,” said Dr. Brown.
Making schools safer comes at a cost, a cost that lands on taxpayers. If a budget exceeds the state’s 2-percent tax cap, 60-percent of the voters must approve the increase.
West Genesee is now asking voters approve up to $2 million for additional entryway security enhancements.
“What we decided to do was add a proposition on our budget to include some upgrades to interior locks to entry ways to each of our buildings. And then also some camera and some software upgrades,” Dr. Brown said.
"I never mind paying more money to make my kids safe,” added Juanita Rivera-Ortiz. She's a parent in the Jamesville-Dewitt school district, and a school board candidate for the 2018-2019 year. Jamesville Dewitt’s budget proposal includes adding new security camera and bullet resistant film for windows. It also involves adding more counselors and social workers.
"They are proposals — there has been nothing solidified at this point and will not be until the budget is put before the voters,” said Jamesville-Dewitt superintendent Dr. Alice Kendrick.
Jamesville-Dewitt is putting forward a nearly $55 million budget that increases the tax levy by 3-percent. Part of that includes adding an armed school resource officer.
Rivera-Ortiz says she’s all for investing in safety but not if it means an armed officer in school.
"The problem is where we get that money from if we're re-diverting funds from instructional budgets or things that help my children achieve academically that I have a bit of concern,” said Rivera-Ortiz.
If the taxpayers vote no in the district, superintendents have to reevaluate their decisions.
“So if they decide to vote against them we have to figure out the reason for it and we would decide if we would do a re vote or do something different from there,” said Dr. Brown.