By Mary Smith
McDonald schools have hired local off-duty police officers who will rotate for an eight-hour shift daily to provide additional security at the schools.
Officers will work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in a move schools Superintendent Ken Halbert said is one of three “new and improved security strategies” in the school district.
Police Chief Lou Ronghi said school officials decided against the idea of having teachers armed with guns.
Halbert said the police officers, who include the village’s six full-time and four part-time officers, began the new assignment Monday, and will be paid $25 an hour, with no additional benefits.
Ronghi said the school came to the village “looking at a way to increase their security.”
School-board president Jack Dugan, Mayor Glenn Holmes and Ronghi met and discussed the issues of school security in the wake of shootings at schools across the country, such as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 27 people, including 20 first-graders, were shot and killed by a single shooter Dec. 14, 2012.
The discussion led to a “police presence plan,” Halbert said.
The village officers will be paid by the board of education.
The theme for this “safety strategy,” Halbert said, is: “The police are our friends, and they help make both the community and the school district safe and enjoyable places in which to live and learn.”
Halbert said the police presence will deter any individual or individuals who are capable of “doing bad things or harbor bad intentions.”
The village officers will focus on maintaining an outside or outdoor presence on the perimeter of the campus and buildings, including the high school and Roosevelt Elementary.
The officers also will enter the buildings.
“It is unfortunate that we live in an era that requires such precautions, but ‘it is what it is’ in the world today. After all, in our society, we have police on duty at banks, movie theaters, shopping malls and athletic events, so why wouldn’t we employ these same precautionary police strategies in order to protect the community’s No. 1 resources ... it’s children,” Halbert said.
The second new strategy will be ALICE training for the school-district staff. Ronghi and his staff will present teaching staff, administrators and support staff Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate training, starting with a seminar on March 6.
The program presents new, proactive procedures for responding to potential workplace violence in the event a criminal should cause harm in the schools.
After the training seminar, Ronghi, building principals Gary Carkido and David Vecchione and the superintendent will work to incorporate selected ALICE concepts into the existing crisis-managements plans.
The third new strategy is that the door of the board offices is secured and monitored by personnel. Now every door in the buildings is secure.
When the district renovation took place 10 years ago, the board-office door was not secure.