Board of Education approves safety officer position

The Canajoharie Central School District Board of Education on Thursday approved the creation a school safety officer position for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. The decision comes after approximately 400 people completed a survey about establishing the position, with approximately 85 percent of them in support of it. 

The Canajoharie village board passed a resolution at its March 8 meeting to fund the position for the school district for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. The intent is to provide additional security in the schools, and to build positive relationships between students, staff and law enforcement.

“We would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey,” Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw said. “It was important to us that everyone’s voice was heard.”

Superintendent Grimshaw and Canajoharie Police Chief Bryan MacFadden are currently working together to develop a contract between the school district and the department, and to determine who the officer will be. They hope to have the contract completed this week for board approval at a special meeting tentatively scheduled on Thursday, March 29. The school district will announce who the safety officer will be and the start date as soon as they are designated.

Many of the survey respondents asked questions about the day-to-day duties of the school safety officer. The duties include building relationships and mentoring students, providing informal counseling upon request, and conducting classroom presentations. The armed officer will be present in all three school buildings on a rotating schedule, with walkthroughs each day in all three school buildings. The officer will be present during lunch periods so they may build positive relationships with the students and staff. 

Others asked questions about whether the officer will have experience working with children. Superintendent Grimshaw and Chief MacFadden are both sensitive to this and it is being considered as they find the right person for the position.

The officer will not wear a full uniform, rather they will wear khakis and the police department’s bike patrol shirt, with a vest and a simplified belt. 

There were also questions about whether the position would be continued in subsequent school years and how it would be funded. If this pilot program is successful, the school district will pursue funding for its continuation. 

If parents have any questions or comments, they should not hesitate to reach out to Superintendent Grimshaw or their child’s school building principal.