Budget, armed security guards on tonight’s Monroe BOE agenda

Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 |Apr 25, 2018 | MonroeNow

The Monroe Township Board of Education is scheduled to hold a first reading tonight on a proposal that would allow the district to arm its security team who are retired police officers.

The proposal has been in the works for months and comes after residents requested armed guards following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla., that resulted in 17 students and staff members being killed.

“The Superintendent of Schools, if recommending a school staff member be authorized to carry a handgun in school buildings and on school grounds, will provide the Board of Education with a copy of all the information submitted by the school security officer in support of the application, any documentation from law enforcement agencies, and information from the district’s insurance company,” according to the proposed policy.

Security personnel would have to meet several requirements beyond just being a retired police officer, including possessing their own weapon that meets the outlined district specifications, as well as meeting requirements outline by state laws. As for the firearm, the policy states that it is a 9mm, 40 caliber or 45 caliber semiautomatic handgun with no modifications and in excellent working order.

“We already have retired police officers in our district, so this would be just making sure that they are armed in our schools,” Kathy Kolupanowich, board president, said. “This is something that the parents wanted.”

If approved during tonight’s meeting, the board would hold a final vote at its next meeting on May 9, Kolupanowich said.

In addition to the first reading on the proposed policy, the district will address matters that were not resolved during its prior meeting that ended before the agenda was completed. Five trustees abruptly exited the March 27 meeting after a closed session to discuss the superintendent’s new contract. The members never returned requests for comments about why they left, but items such as the contract for Michael Kozak and soliciting bids for a new food service contract, among others, were not resolved.

READ: Superintendent Contract In Limbo After Five Trustees Leave Meeting

The public will also get the chance to comment on the record about the district’s proposed $130.6 million budget. The budget is largely support by the $112.3 million tax levy, and includes $3.6 million in aid from the state, a figure officials have said is too low and have been lobbying state lawmakers for more funding.

READ: In Trenton, Monroe superintendent rallies for fair funding of education

“We want people to come and stay in New Jersey,” Kozak said at a rally in Trenton on April 23. “We’re trying to tell the students and families this is the place to be, but they are being taxed out of their homes, they’re being taxed out of their residences. So we are asking, please we need to address this issue now and we cannot wait any longer.”

READ: $130M Monroe Education Budget Gets Initial OK

The meeting is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. at Monroe Township High School, 200 Schoolhouse Road.