Burlington Township Board of Education talks school security

District will be adding two officers next school year, plans to apply for county money

The Burlington Township Board of Education discussed school security during a 20-minute meeting June 27.

Superintendent Mary Ann Bell said she has received confirmation the district will be adding two new school resource officers, taking the total number of armed police officers in the school system from two to four.

Bell said the additional officers will reduce response time as there will be one for each of the district’s schools.

“That is absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “Obviously, we hope it’s never tested, and we don’t have to get to that point, but that certainly will be a huge deterrent.”

Bell said the officers will be in place by the end of the 2018–2019 school year.

Funding for the increased police presence was included in the budget the board of education approved in April. The township and the district will split the cost.

Bell said June 27 she has heard some names mentioned by officials regarding the new SROs, but she is not sure whether the placements have been finalized.

“It doesn’t matter because anyone we get from the Burlington Township Police Department would do an excellent job as SRO,” Bell said.

She said she plans to meet with the current officers stationed in the schools to map out a plan for when the two new SROs come on board.

“We all need to sit down and come up with some procedures and some standardization,” Bell said.

Bell also said the school district is planning to apply for grant money recently made available by the county to improve security at local high schools.

Last month, Burlington County officials launched the $20 million grant program aimed at enhancing the physical security of high school buildings.

On June 27, the board of education voted to submit documents to the county’s designated architectural firm, USA Architects, which will perform a security evaluation of Burlington Township High School. It’s the first step toward getting a cut of the grant funding.

“We will definitely submit everything,” Bell told board members.

In addition, Bell told board members she and Nicholas Bice, the district’s business administrator, have also recently attended training sessions on school safety.

“We knew a lot going in,” Bell said. “However, it was reinforced.”

Most of the topics covered can’t be disclosed to the public, Bell said. She added she, along with Bice, will be meeting with the senior SRO to discuss some of the initiatives they would like to see going forward.