MARLBORO – The Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education has entered into an agreement with the township to assign an armed Marlboro police officer to every district school during school hours for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.
The board’s cost to place a regular full-time officer in each school beginning April 9 and extending through the end of school in June will be $177,480, according to Jonathan Capp, the township’s business administrator. He said township’s share for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year will be over and above, including Social Security and Medicare, insurance, vehicle expense, etc.
The resolution was passed with an 8-1 vote on March 27. Board President Robyn Wolfe, Vice President Randy Heller and board members Robert Daniel, Anisha Gizersky, Vlad Goldfarb, Stephen Shifrinson, Susan Shrem and Ellen Xu voted yes.
Board member Dara Enny voted no and said, “The problem I have with this is not with security and not with having police officers in schools. What bothers me is that when I go out for goods and services, I always get estimates and I always look at options. We weren’t given options, we were given one deal and that’s it.”
Municipal officials are in the process of hiring Class III special law enforcement officers who will be stationed at the schools beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The Class III officers will replace the regular full-time officers who will handle that duty for the remainder of the current school year.
Class III officers are recently retired law enforcement personnel who will be under the command of the police department and may carry a firearm while on duty. That initiative is expected to cost the school district $275,000 during the 2018-19 school year. The Class III officers will be paid $25 per hour.
Commenting on the board’s decision to place a police officer in each building for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year, one resident said, “I think it’s hasty, I think it’s unnecessary. I can’t imagine it would make sense to spend nearly as much as what we plan on spending for all of the next school year for the next 90 days when I don’t believe we have had had any increased or specific threat to Marlboro or Marlboro schools. Money is not my only concern. The concern is why are we so hastily throwing a large sum of money to something not necessary? I don’t think our security is lacking. This town has a strong police presence in town and at our schools, and good security measures in place.”
During the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Eric Hibbs said, “There are times where you have to ask yourself not whether it is right or wrong or agree or disagree with the world. There is no one in this room who would not change certain things about this world. The luxury I don’t have is to say there is a slim chance of (an incident) happening in Marlboro. If there is any chance it can happen in Marlboro, I believe to my core that having a police officer in a building will make everybody in that building safer.”
In a statement posted on the school district’s website, Hibbs wrote, “While there will be strong feelings about this decision on both sides of the argument, in the end, the district continues to be charged with keeping everyone in our buildings as safe as possible.
“Saying that the odds of a tragedy occurring in Marlboro are slim just isn’t a good enough response considering we are protecting that which matters most, human life. The worst possible day of my professional life would be the day a parent looked me in the eye and explained that if I had only advocated for a police officer in our buildings their child could still be alive,” the superintendent said.
“I am pleased the board has supported our initiative to station Marlboro police officers in each of our schools,” Mayor Jonathan Hornik said. “While it is not a solution to the gun debate, it will keep our children and educators safe. As mayor, I have no more fundamental responsibility than keeping our children and educators safe.
“While it would be nice to pretend we did not live in a society that requires armed police officers in our schools, it is not the reality. … As public officials, we remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety of Marlboro’s school kids. The time has now come to dedicate qualified and trained armed officers to each school for the entire school day,” the mayor said.