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District, Adams Township Investing in Increased School Security

Mars Area School Board unanimously approved a letter of intent between Mars Area School District and Adams Township for the purposes of increasing security within the District and its schools.

As part of the 2019-2020 General Fund Budget, the Board plans to make an additional $200,000 investment in school security, said Dayle Ferguson, Board president. “The Board’s objective, starting next school year, is to have an armed police officer in every school building.”

The Board, along with District administrators, has been engaged in conversation with Adams Township officials to explore several different models to accomplish that goal, said Ferguson. The letter of intent, which is expected to be approved by Adams Township Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting, sets the parameters for a more formal agreement between the District and Adams Township.

As stated in the letter of intent, the District would establish a “hybrid” school police force consisting of two (2) Adams Township Police officers, who would be employed by Adams Township, but permanently assigned (during the school year) to protect the District’s schools. The District would supplement those full-time officers with additional “school police officers” and seek approval from Butler County Court of Common Pleas to establish a school police force, as permitted under Act 44 of 2018.

“This model is used by school districts around the Commonwealth. It is used by many school districts in our region with great success,” said Ferguson. “It is a blended model and we will have the benefit of the leadership and experience of our Adams Township officers as well as that of highly trained retired officers.”

The formal agreement, which would be a “one-year deal” with the opportunity to extend the contract into additional years, would address chain of command, development of policies, and operational methods, said Thomas W. King III, District Solicitor.

As discussed with Adams Township, the police department would, most likely, have a pool of four (4) officers who would be assigned to the School District and two (2) of whom would be designated as “officers in charge,” said King. One (1) “officer in charge” would be on the District’s campus at any given time; would supervise the other Adams Township officer(s) and any school police officers; and would report to Adams Township Police Chief Shawn Anglum.

Under its current agreement with Adams Township, the District pays $107,965 for one (1) police officer, who is assigned to patrol the District and its schools each day, as well as an additional $39,960 for traffic control. The formal agreement would ask the District to pay $75,000 per Adams Township Police Officer (a total of $150,000 for two officers); and, the Township would also provide additional officers for traffic services during peak hours at no added cost to the District.

“The Township has agreed to what we think is a very fair financial arrangement with the School District,” said King, noting that any formal agreement will come back for public approval by the School Board and by the Adams Township supervisors.

For more information, call (724) 625-1518.