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FALCONER, NY (WNY News Now) – In light of the recent mass school shootings nationwide, educators in Chautauqua County are working to step up school security ahead of the first day of class next week.
Educators at Falconer Central School are ready for classes to resume, however, are working to address one final concern before students return: the lack of a Student Resource Officer on campus this fall.
“We’re pretty excited,“ explained Superintendent Stephen Penhollow. “The last two years have been extremely difficult for kids, and our county and our community, but we’ve got great people that are working together and we can overcome a lot of major things.”
While the school is ready to teach, their main concern this fall is student safety.
“Safety is definitely a number one concern,” stated Board of Education President Tracy Schrader. “We all watch the news and know what is going on in the world, so I think we really need to take the safety of our students seriously, and I think tonight we’ve taken a measure to work on that for this district.”
“So, yeah, as Mrs. Schrader has pointed out law enforcement, much like education, is experiencing shortages,“ said Superintendent Penhollow. “And we need to once again support our law enforcement, support our schools and we’re fortunate, our Falconer community has done that and continues to do that.”
Previously, the district had an agreement with the Town of Ellicott for a SRO on school grounds. That contract, however, expired and was not renewed during summer break.
To remedy this, former Board of Education President Todd Beckerink, who had resigned earlier in the week, is taking on the role as a school safety advisor for the district.
“When the school sought the need to find additional coverage, we sought out the Civil Service list,“ explained Superintendent Penhollow. “And he was on the list, and he’s willing and able, and very excited about the opportunity to protect our kids and put his life on the line in case something does happen.”
The new safety advisor will be on hand at the school’s three buildings throughout the day.
That seems like a lot of ground for one person to cover, and that’s why the district is also looking to roll out a program, similar to the “Red Shirts” staff currently in place at Jamestown High School, where at least two trained armed persons will be on school grounds at all times.
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