The discussion at the Sag Harbor School Board on Monday revolved around two familiar issues: school security and two upcoming bond proposals.
Jonathan Hark, the safety and administrative support manager for Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), presented recommendations to improve the safety of students throughout the district. Mr. Hark toured the schools and interviewed school staff as well as Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano while compiling his findings.
He recommended that the district install additional security cameras at both Pierson and the elementary school. Mr Hark also suggested making the camera angles viewable from both the main office and an iPad type device so that security personnel would be able to patrol the halls while still monitoring the rest of the building.
Additionally, Mr. Hark suggested hiring a security guard for the elementary school, having staff more visible in the hallways, hiring an after-hours monitor at Pierson and reviewing protocols for checking visitors against the known sex offender list.
Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent, said the board would dedicate its efforts to enhancing the three M’s: materials such as cameras and iPads; mindset, by encouraging the staff to have greater interactions with students; and manpower, by adding additional security guards.
Saying that it “seems almost year in and year out that one of these tragedies happen,” Dr. Bonuso reiterated his ideas on thoughtful engagement of at-risk students being the best form of security.
“The most valuable deterrent is building a trusting relationship within the school and keeping an open dialogue with our at-risk students,” said Dr. Bonuso. “I’m more worried about the demons within our students. Seeing behavioral red flags way in advance of an issue will do more than bringing in any amount of metal detectors.”
Board member Mary Anne Miller, who said it is important to view school security as “a constant work in progress,” also suggested making visitors leave their driver’s licenses at the front desk where they have to sign in.
“We make people sign in, but no one signs out. We have been nicely informal, but we need to know who is in the building at all times,” said Ms. Miller.
The board also discussed the scheduling of two bond proposals totaling $9 million: one to renovate the Pierson auditorium and the other to install a turf athletic field behind the school. With the vote taking place on November 13, the board hopes to disseminate a video and newsletter explaining the proposals to residents before October 1, as well as host what Dr. Bonuso called bond fairs on October 23 and October 26, at which stakeholders on both sides of the issue would be allowed to explain positions as to why the proposals are necessary or not.
The board also approved the hiring of a new middle school assistant principal, Brittany Miaritis, despite three board members, Ms. Miller, Daniel Hartnett and David Diskin, voting against her appointment.