Parent-led Yes Safe Schools Glencoe has submitted 852 signatures from Glencoe voters, nearly three times as many required to place a school safety referendum question on the April 7 election ballot.
In November, a group of Glencoe parents, neighbors, and community members announced the petition drive for a no-cost, one-year pilot program that would place a School Resource Officer in Central School during the 2015-16 school year to enhance school safety, provide additional medical assistance and mentor students.
“We’d like to thank all of the parents who support Yes Safe Schools Glencoe and got the job done. The people in the community of Glencoe have sent a loud and clear message that they are interested in and excited about improving safety in our schools,” said Glencoe parent Marcia Stone. “We have had overwhelming support for the pilot program and are looking forward to continuing the growing discussion within the community as to how we can further enhance safety and emergency medical treatment for our students and remove the responsibility from the administrators and teachers.”
The Yes Safe Schools Glencoe effort is a privately funded one-year pilot that will cover the costs of placing a specially trained Glencoe Public Safety Officer, known as a School Resource Officer, to work full-time at Central School.
The School Resource Officer will work closely with school administrators, teachers and the entire community to keep schools safe, protect students and faculty and provide counseling and mentoring to students. In addition, the SRO will also be cross-trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic and firefighter who will provide immediate medical treatment if students are ill or injured in case of emergencies.
To get the referendum on the ballot, election law required that 313 registered voters (or 8 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the 2014 gubernatorial election) residing in SD 35 sign the petition. But within a period of just a few weeks, 852 had signed their names to the petition, 500 more than were required by law and almost double the 479 individuals who cast ballots in the April 2013 municipal election.
By casting their ballots in the April 7 election, Glencoe residents can show their support for enhancing student safety and security.
“This referendum will gauge public support for the pilot and ideally encourage School Board members to consider this pilot program,” said Stone. “Glencoe residents rightly feel that our schools do a great job of nurturing our children and this pilot program will add to that list. Like me, many people in our community don’t feel the administration and teachers should be solely responsible for safety at the schools. The main focus of our teachers must be the education of our students. Teachers should not need to worry about protecting and defending their classrooms, but rather focusing on the educational and emotional components of learning. This will ultimately provide a better school environment.”
“There will be no cost to Glencoe residents and there is no commitment after the pilot program ends so it will serve as an excellent way to evaluate the benefits of an SRO at our schools,” Stone added. “As evidenced by the tremendous response during the signature gathering process and the large volume of signatures collected, Glencoe residents – at the very least – are interested in continuing a dialogue to ensure that students are kept in a safe and comfortable learning environment.”
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.
Yes Safe Schools Glencoe 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.
Those interested in learning more about the SRO pilot program can visit glencoessp.org to find answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read news articles on SROs across the nation, and more.