Orange County to Support $1.2 Million in School Safety EnhancementsJan 25th, 2013 | By HV Insider | Category: Lead Article
Orange County Executive Diana Announces $1.2 million in Funding for Local School Districts to Enhance School Safety Procedures after Newtown Massacre
County to support local safety plans with payout over 3 year time period
Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana announced today that the County will be funding local school districts to the total of $1.2 million, approximately $60,000 to each of the County’s 18 school districts, to supplement their school safety plans, which will be paid out over a 3 year period, pending approval by the Orange County Legislature.
“As a result of the recent school forums the County held, school districts have explained that they have their own unique needs in protecting their students,” said County Executive Diana. “This initiative that we have announced today is an important way for the County to supplement local plans, with the goal of ultimately strengthening the security for the children of our County.”
The County has assembled a five person, blue-ribbon board of experts consisting of school, mental health and law enforcement professionals to review written plans submitted by school districts in exchange for funding grants. Board members include: Terrence L. Olivo, Orange Ulster BOCES Chief Operating Officer, and former Superintendent of the Monroe-Woodbury School District; Kenneth J. Maxwell, Vice President of Security at JetBlue Airways and retired lead investigator with the FBI for the World Trade Center bombings; John Melville, Orange County District Attorney’s Chief Investigator and former superintendent New York State Police; Dr. William Bassett, former BOCES Superintendent, as well as former Superintendent of Schools in Pine Bush; and, Chris Ashman, former Orange County Mental Health Commissioner. The board will be chaired by Deputy County Executive James D. O’Donnell, a former Colonel with the New York State Police and Troop F Commander, as well as Chief of Police for the MTA Police Department.
“The initiative being announced today will provide significant help to school districts in striking the delicate balance between meeting the instructional and co-curricular needs of the community it serves in a welcoming and accessible way, while at the same time taking responsible steps to help insure the health & safety of everyone,” said Mr. Olivo.
“Consistent with the National Council for Behavioral Health, we urge our school districts to consider offering Mental Health First Aid training,” said Orange County Mental Health Commissioner Darcie M. Miller. “The training will give our communities tools to assist them in identifying signs of mental illness and a path to help our children and teenagers get the appropriate care.”
“The greatest concern parents have is that when a child goes on a bus in the morning to school that he or she come back home safely,” said Orange County District Attorney Francis D. Phillips. “A multifaceted approach is important as all schools are different and they will have their own approach to solving school safety matters – one size does not fit all.”
“Public safety is a top priority in the Diana administration,” said Deputy County Executive James D. O’Donnell. “Those who have graciously accepted to serve on this panel are all experts in their field and bring a lot of experience with them. Their input will help make our schools safer.”
“I would like to applaud the County Executive for this initiative, and I thank the panel for serving as well,” said Chairman of the Orange County Legislature Michael R. Pillmeier. “I believe the full legislature will support this proposal, and I expect a 21-0 vote.”
Also present for the announcement were Orange County Legislator Katie Bonelli (District 5) and Chairperson of the Human Services Committee, Legislator Kevin W. Hines (District 12) and Chairman of the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee, Dennis W. Simmons (District 13) and Chairman of the Education Committee, as well as Mr. James McGee representing New York State Senator William J. Larkin (39-SD).