Metuchen superintendent asks school board to hire director of safety

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METUCHEN — Calling it a sign of the times, Metuchen Superintendent of Schools Vincent Caputo is recommending the Board of Education hire an individual to work as the district’s director of safety.

“I think it would be a timely position and a position that would be important to the district,” he said.

Caputo said he has proposed placing $60,000 in the 2018-19 school year budget for that position.

“Ideally, (the person hired would be) a retired law enforcement (officer) who would, among other things, be responsible for safety and security training and drills and implementation of best practices,” the superintendent said. “A determination has not been made as to whether that person would carry a weapon.”

At present, Metuchen’s schools do not have private security guards nor school resource officers in place. A school resource officer is a member of a police department who is assigned to work at a school.

Caputo said the purpose of the director would be to provide safety and security for Moss Elementary School, Campbell Elementary School, Edgar Middle School and Metuchen High School. He said the director would provide staff training and serve as a liaison with local, county and state law enforcement agencies.

Board members have introduced a $38.50 million budget for the 2018-19 school year. A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for April 24. Metuchen’s residential and commercial property owners will be asked to pay $36.24 million in taxes to support the budget.

District administrators said the school tax rate for 2018-19 will be $3.72 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home is assessed at $186,000 and the owner of that home would pay $6,919 in school taxes during the upcoming year.