A new Mancos school board policy to have law enforcement present at its monthly meetings has drawn criticism from one local resident.
School board members recently enacted a new security policy, requiring a deputy marshal to attend their monthly meetings. Regina Roberts told board members at their meeting last week that the measure was wasteful spending.
"Why is money being spent to have an officer at school board meetings?" she questioned. "The money being spent to have a deputy at board meetings could be better spent."
Roberts voiced her opinion after school superintendent Brian Hanson informed board members that the Mancos Marshal's Office had applied for a COPS grant to help offset the cost of having campus security during the school day. Citing a porous campus, Roberts was adamant that additional security measures were needed during school days, not board meetings.
"The school needs to be made safer," she said.
After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the Mancos schools safety team started evaluating and reviewing their policies and procedures. For added security, the committee recommended installing monitored entrances with buzzers on the doors.
The question board members now face is whether to pay for a security officer or to install monitored entrances at the schools. Hanson said that decision is pending approval of the COPS grant.
Roberts told board members she favors having a security resource officer at the school, because students, especially those being bullied, need someone they can trust. Hanson agreed, saying a security reserve officer could also serve as a positive role model for students who feel pressured into drug use, for example.
"In the world we live in, we need to place all the precautions that we can to ensure students are safe at school," Hanson said.
Board treasurer Chris Kloster said he is not convinced that spending $22,000 for a buzzer feature on school doors would make the school safer, and board secretary Beverly Humiston said rigorous training for teachers would be a better use of school resources.
Hanson said he and board members are hoping to place a security officer on campus, pending approval of the COPS grant.
"A security reserve officer would be a better strategy," he said.
The U.S. Justice Department funds the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program, and 2013 grant announcements are expected Sept. 30.
In regard to manned security at board meetings, Roberts maintains that safety of children should be a bigger priority.
Hanson declined to comment about whether he believed security was needed at board meetings, saying it was a board decision.
In response, board president Monty Guiles said having law enforcement present at board meetings helps to ensure public decorum is maintained.
"To have the deputy marshal at the meetings is $25 per hour," he said.