Norwin moves to hire school resource officer |

Norwin moves to hire school resource officer

Joe Napsha

In an effort to improve school security, Norwin officials laid the groundwork for hiring a school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

The school board this week authorized the administration to begin the pre-employment process of advertising, screening, interviewing and hiring a school resource officer. The hiring is subject to the district’s solicitor approving a contract with the candidate.

“We’ve got to make our kids feel safe,” school board member Tracey Czajkowski said.

The board does not meet in July but intends to hire an officer at its August meeting, according to the resolution the board approved.

While acknowledging that Norwin intends to hire one school resource officer for a district with seven school buildings in North Huntingdon, school board member Robert Perkins said, “it’s a start.”

It is likely the officer would be stationed at the high school, Perkins said. If more money is available from the state, Norwin could hire more officers.

The school district earmarked $65,000 in salaries and benefits for the resource officer in next year’s budget. The school board is expected to approve the final budget when it holds a special meeting at 4 p.m. Friday.

Donald Rhodes, the lone school board member to vote against the move, said he was “not sure this was thought out enough.”

Rhodes said he did not believe the amount of money Norwin allocated for the resource officer is sufficient.

“I want to see some more funding from the state,” Rhodes said.

Superintendent William Kerr said the states’s recently-passed budget has money to improve school security, but the details have yet to be released.

The board’s decision comes after a group of students urged the board in March to hire a school resource officer or police officer. That same recommendation was listed as a priority when Kerr met with a group of students in May to discuss school safety issues and the school board directed the administration last month to consider options for hiring a resource officer or police officer.

The school resource officer must be approved by Westmoreland County Court, district solicitor Falco Muscante said. The school district must notify the court whether the resource officer will be armed, have arrest powers, have the authority to detain someone before police arrive and issue citations, Muscante said.

“The school must specify how it wants the officer to function,” Muscante said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].

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