Back to school, security style

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09/01/2009

It's that time of year again, parents. Time to ship the kids back off to school and take a little breather from keeping their schedules full of 'activities' all summer long. Phew, what a relief, huh?

As schools prepare to have full classrooms again, issues of security are bound to come up. This story caught my attention in terms of how schools are striking a balance between their security programs and their budgets. When the contract between the local police and the Vallejo High School was not renewed, the school ushered in a "new era of campus security", according to the article, and increased and "empowered" their existing security force. Referred to as "site safety supervisors" these individuals are tasked with patrolling the campus and keeping students safe. The article did not specify if these supervisors were given any additional training to supplement the loss of police presence (like weapons or active shooter training), but they did say it saved them a heck of a lot of money.

District officials last year, when proposing a police-less security setup, touted the potential cost-savings as a benefit of the switch.

The police officers cost the district about $800,000 for the year, including salary, benefits and extra pay for covering after-school events.The district also was paying about $1.2 million for about 50 part-and full-time supervisors.

Now the district will spend about $1.7 million for 47 site safety supervisors. The total includes pay raises for all of the supervisors, including a higher pay range for the site leads. The supervisors also received new uniforms and Nextel cell phones for the leads.

And while this shift in security presence is certainly a cost saver, it's yet to be determined how effective the new supervisors are, especially since there are fewer than last year. The school is looking to increase its video surveillance system, which can certainly supplement for some personnel shortage, but can never replace the value of one-on-one contact, especially when you're dealing with adolescents. Every parent knows that.