By J.R. Brower
At their June 11 meeting, Peters Township Council discussed a proposal by the school district to place a permanent police officer at the high school for the upcoming school year. Referred to as a school resource officer, the district has said that it wants a police presence at the high school in case of potential problems.
In April, council approved a police officer for the high school for the remainder of the school year, for which the school district paid the township $45.28 per hour. Township Manager Michael Silvestri said that he recently received correspondence from School Superintendent Dr. Nina Zetty stating that she wanted to get an agreement in place as soon as possible for the resource officer.
Debate at the meeting centered on costs and the purpose of having a police presence at the high school. Council member Robert Atkison said, “The position seems to me to be an all-day baby sitter.” Chief of Police Harry Fruecht disagreed, saying “I think there is a benefit” to having a police officer at the high school. He said that he has received “positive feedback” regarding the officer at the high school at the end of this school year.
Fruecht also said that Bethel Park High School has had a police officer presence for quite some time. He said that Upper St. Clair High School has its own security officer as well, though not an actual member of the township’s police force. Council member Frank Arcuri said, “If they want a police officer, that’s fine. But I don’t think we (the township) should be footing any of the bill.” He said that the salary of the officer would be $62,645 per year. The school district has said that it will pay 75% of the salary for the officer and has asked the township to pay for the remaining 25%, accounting for the remaining time when school is not in session.
More than several council members questioned why daily police presence is necessary at the high school at all. Arcuri said that one of his concerns was the police getting involved in disciplinary matters that should normally be handled by school administrators. Summing up, council member David Ball said, “The school board should justify why they want to do it.”
In tabling the action, council expects to receive back further explanation from the school district before making a final decision.
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:28