The Mars Area School District is teaming up with Adams Township to improve security within its district facilities.
The district plans to make an additional $200,000 investment in school security, said Dayle Ferguson, Mars school board president.
“The board’s objective, starting next school year, is to have an armed police officer in every school building,” Ferguson said.
The board, along with district administrators, have been working with Adams Township officials to explore several different models to accomplish that goal. As stated in a letter of intent approved by the school board, the district would establish a “hybrid” school police force consisting of two 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,” Ferguson said. “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, according to district solicitor Thomas W. King III. As discussed with Adams Township, the police department would, most likely, have a pool of four officers who would be assigned to the school district and two of whom would be designated as “officers in charge, according to King. One “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 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,” King said, noting that any formal agreement will come back for public approval by the school board and by the Adams Township supervisors.