CHATHAM–County Sheriff David Bartlett’s goal of getting officers back into Columbia County schools has finally been achieved, with the decision last week by the Chatham Board of Education to approve agreement with the Sheriff’s Office for a School Resource Deputy (SRD).
The agreement, effective starting in September, provides Chatham with a deputy to be assigned however the school feels necessary at no cost to the district. The SRD will be shared between Chatham and New Lebanon schools, for 20 hours a week at each district.
Earlier in the year, Ichabod Crane and Taconic Hills agreed to terms with the Sheriff’s Office for one full-time deputy each in their schools, with each of the districts paying half of a deputy’s salary. In March, Sheriff Bartlett proposed to the four remaining schools–Hudson, Germantown, New Lebanon, and Chatham–that his office provide the half-time SRDs at no cost. Hudson and Germantown will also share a deputy.
While Hudson, Germantown, and New Lebanon approved the agreement in the spring, Chatham delayed its decision to hear from parents and the principals of the three school buildings. In a presentation to the board in May, Chatham principals Kristen Reno, Amy Potter, and John Thorsen spoke about how they would use an officer, including traffic control, bike safety training, writing contests, training on the responsible use of cell phones, supervision at games, and presentations on drugs, health, social media and distracted driving.
At last week’s meeting board member James Marks said he would like the board to meet the person selected by the Sheriff’s Office for the job. Members Teri Conte and Jennifer Lindberg told Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo that they’d like regular updates on how the program is going.
Board members Chris Kelly and Mr. Marks asked whether the board can create a curriculum for the deputy with items they’d like to see done.
Ms. Nuciforo said she thought it would be best if the principals worked with the individual on the issues they felt were most relevant to their schools. “It’s only a half-time position. I think it’s important to let the principals focus on the needs of their buildings at least as a starting point,” she said. “I ask the board to let the principals grow the program for the first year, and then see if we have ideas to enhance it.”
Also at the July 22 board meeting, the board:
•Heard district resident Wayne Coe, who accused the superintendent of violating board policies during the capital project process, which he says was a plan sprung by Ms. Nuciforo to benefit the New York State Council of School Superintendents. He requested the board immediately vote to reverse the decision to close the middle school building
•Approved a library manager position at the Chatham Public Library
•Approved Annual Professional Performance Review Plans for teachers and principals, effective through June 30, 2019.