Privately funded SRO pilot at Central School in 2015-16 would enhance safety, guide students
YES Safe Schools Glencoe supporters planning to place referendum on the April 7 ballot
A group of Glencoe parents is seeking to establish a no-cost pilot program that calls for placing a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Central School during the 2015-16 school year to enhance school safety, provide additional medical assistance and mentor students.
At no cost to taxpayers, the Glencoe School Safety Project is a privately funded one-year pilot that would cover the costs for a Glencoe Public Safety Officer to work full-time at the school.
“Our School Resource Officer would work closely with school administrators, teachers and the entire community to keep schools safe, protect students and faculty in case of emergencies and provide counseling and mentoring to students at no cost to the district or taxpayers,” said Glencoe resident Scott Heiman, one of many community parents supporting the pilot initiative. “Our SRO also would be cross-trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic and firefighter who would provide immediate medical treatment if students are ill or injured.”
“While safety and protection would serve as the primary objectives of our SRO, he or she would be a member of our community, developing relationships with faculty, students and parents,” added Brad Haber, another local parent advocating for the SRO pilot in District 35. Glencoe resident Natalie Slotnick, a former middle school teacher in Glenview School District 34, adds, “When I was teaching, I worked with SROs and only had a positive experience.”
YES Safe Schools Glencoe intends to gather signatures in an effort to place an advisory referendum on the April 7 ballot to gauge public support. Following completion of the pilot, the community will have an opportunity to review results, provide feedback and determine how to move forward.
School Resource Officers are becoming more common in public schools throughout the country and especially in the north suburbs. New Trier, Highland Park, Deerfield, Niles Township and Lake Forest High Schools each have SROs, as well as Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest, Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High School in Wilmette, and Lincoln and Old Orchard Junior High Schools in Skokie. President Obama has made SROs a key component of the nation’s school safety program.
The Glencoe School Safety Project has consulted with the nationally-recognized security risk management firm Hillard Heintze to develop a top-notch SRO program that takes best practices from other successful SRO models but is specifically designed to meet the needs of Glencoe School District 35. Hillard Heintze officials emphasized that the purpose of the SRO is not to serve as a security guard but rather an educator, mentor and someone who will be there when it matters in cases of emergency.
“The SRO at Central School will be an active member of the community, serving as an educator, mentor and friend – teaching life skills while promoting education and safety, at school, at home and in life,” said Ken Bouche, Chief Operating Officer at Hillard Heintze. “We obviously want the best for our children and the ultimate goal of SROs is to create a safe learning environment for the students and teachers.”
The pilot was designed as a creative approach that would enable the school district to experience a one-year SRO pilot with no downsides – no cost and no long-term commitment. The referendum will enable the people of Glencoe to learn about SROs, engage in an informed discussion about the issue and ultimately decide for themselves.
The Glencoe School Safety Project has also reached out to the District 35 administrators, officials from the Village of Glencoe and the Glencoe Department of Public Safety to discuss the proposed pilot. The group’s primary goal is to facilitate an open, intelligent and transparent discussion about the issue and let the community make an informed, educated decision.
“District 35 administrators have done a phenomenal job providing a world-class educational experience for our children and they should be commended for that,” added Courtney Berlin, a local parent lending her support to the campaign. “This initiative does not intend to undermine or interfere with that. Instead, the pilot aims to take a pro-active step in addressing safety and security without burdening the administration with exploring additional measures to keep our children safe.”
The Glencoe School Safety Project has created a website for Glencoe residents to learn more about School Resource Officers, the proposed pilot program and ballot initiative. By visiting www.safeschoolsglencoe.org, Glencoe residents can show their support and sign up for updates.