Each of the four elementary schools in the Berkeley Township school district now has a police officer in uniform on duty during school hours, Schools Superintendent James D. Roselli said.
The officers began last week, after the district entered into a shared services agreement with Berkeley Township and the Berkeley Township police department "...to provide a uniformed police presence in each of our schools," Roselli said in a Feb. 5 letter to parents posted on the district's website.
The Berkeley Board of Education unanimously approved the arrangement at the Jan. 24 board meeting.
The agreement was a result of the newly-created school safety council consisting of parents, staff, township police and fire personnel and the Board of Education's school safety committee.
The district's administrative staff will continue to attend school safety meetings throughout the state and explore "all avenues to provide a safe and secure environment for our schools," Roselli said in the letter.
The revenue raised by the district's expansion of the extended preschool program will offset the increased costs of police officers at each school, Board President James Fulcomer said.
"We are determined to make sure that our children and staff are as safe as possible from people who would, if given the opportunity, do them harm," Fulcomer said.
The board also recently authorized school Business Administrator Laura Venter to draw up a contract with SERAPH - a criminal analysis and school security firm - to conduct a federal level security management audit for the district, he said.
"This audit should lead to greater safety in our schools," Fulcomer said.
Roughly 600 parents responded a schools safety survey offered after the Newtown, CT school shootings. Seventy-four percent of those who took the survey were in favor of "an active police officer in schools," Roselli said in the letter.
Central Regional school district officials announced in January that both the high school and middle school would have a police officer stationed in each school, rather than just sharing one officer.
The two officers will be paid for with School Choice money, Central Regional Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides has said. The state selected Central as a "choice" district last year. Central takes in students from districts around Ocean County and is reimbursed $14,600 per student.
"The officers will be in the school during the school hours and follow the calendar year, but will be used in the community when school is not in session," Parlapanides said in January. "So Central is basically paying for two police officers in Berkeley."