BEDFORD, N.Y.— After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Bedford Central School District has hired a company to provide security personnel to monitor the perimeters of all district buildings until the end of the school year.
At the Board of Education's Feb. 20 meeting, the board awarded a “campus greeter and school perimeter supervision services” contract to Summit Security Services, a company based in Hartsdale .
Guards will patrol the outside of each school building every hour of the school day starting Friday, March 1, and ending June 30, with an option to renew the contract for the 2013-14 school year.
"Our objective is a presence outside of buildings that complements the meaningful presence of local police," Superintendent Jere Hochman said Monday.
After hiring Altaris Consulting Group to conduct security audits on all school buildings, Hochman submitted a letter to the Bedford, Mount Kisco and Pound Ridge town boards asking each to provide armed police officers for each school.
It has been decided that each town, on its own terms, will manage any plans involving the town police, Hochman said.
Pound Ridge officials have confirmed that the town’s police will provide a meaningful presence at Pound Ridge Elementary, a term officials say cannot be expanded upon due to discretionary concerns but refers to measures that will not be of extra cost to taxpayers.
On Feb. 11, district officials accepted three security companies’ requests for proposals and ultimately selected Summit.
After learning of the district’s decision to hire Summit, opinions of Facebook users showed a stark divide. Theresa Mazzaro-Flora said, “If they’re not armed, don’t bother wasting the [money].” Beth Romski said, “Sadly, no patrol armed or otherwise would have prevented what happened in Newtown. Waste of resources.”
Although many question whether the greeters/security personnel will be armed, "our police colleagues have advised that we be more discreet about sharing details of our security plans,” Hochman said. These specifics include being armed, what technology is used and where, and other measures.
During the school day, Hochman said, Summit security personnel may periodically enter school offices to review visitor IDs, but their main job is routine surveillance outside the building. At Fox Lane High School, guards will supplement the work of the school resource officer, provided by the Bedford Police Department since 2005.
Summit’s guards will be billing for a rate of $26.70 per hour, per person, an expense that will involve transferring some money within the budget from one budget category to other.