A large school district in New Jersey has approved to enhance student protection by hiring off-duty police and then retired officers to patrol inside school buildings. The guards will be armed and present through at least the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.
For the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO) will be assigned to each school "at a rate not to exceed $35 per hour."
"In addition to the aforementioned hourly rate, the Township shall provide the District with ancillary and start-up costs, which the Parties will determine how those costs will be shared," the letter reads.
"It gives me more peace of mind," Gottschalk said. "I'm still not 100 percent confident … that things are going to be smooth, but it gives me enough confidence that I feel comfortable sending my kids to school now."
"I second-guessed sending my kids to school after the tragedy, quite frankly, and I did," she continued, adding that she is feeling better now after the district approved the measure.
Gottschalk said she hasn't met anyone yet who disagreed with the new policy, explaining that it doesn't make sense to her that there is security at many events nationwide, but guards at schools are still very limited.
"We have security at sporting events, concerts, and we send our kids to school with no security after all of these things happening," Gottschalk said. "It just doesn't make sense to me, but I hope that this is a step forward and maybe other towns and boards will get involved and do the same."
Jacqueline Tobacco, the board of education vice president, said in a statement that the approved measures will build on other efforts to put children first and keep students safe.
"This action, along with increased funding for mental health services, is a commitment from our administration, board, and township to put our children first and foremost," Tobacco said.