Marlboro residents voiced concerns about the new school security system for almost two hours on Tuesday night at the township Board of Education meeting.
The decision to put a police officer in every school in the K-8 district came in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragic shooting in Newtown Connecticut.
On Tuesday, the board voted to approve a 90 day contract with the police department to put off-duty and special officers in schools, .
According to Board President Michael Lilonsky, the 90 day trial gives the district and police department time to complete security assessments and come up with a long term plan, which may or may not involve having officers in every school.
"Everyone is asking where the money is going to come from. At some point, you might see a referendum. You're not going to see education suffering," Lilonsky said.
The Board President said that decision will be made after the trial period, when the district determines what needs to be done in each school and the cost of security upgrades.
District Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said this money is coming from surplus in the 2012-13 budget. After 60 days, Superintendent Dr. David Abbott will make a recommendation to the board going forward.
While the Board of Education shoulders the responsibility of school security, the effort to put officers in schools was shared by the Township Administration and the Marlboro Police Department.
"If we had the ability to wave a wand and make changes over night, we would want to do that. We can't do that, though," Mayor Jon Hornik said. "This is the best we can do right now."
Residents shared mixed emotions about the decision, some calling it a knee-jerk reaction while others applauded the quick action.
"You can't solve everything," Marlboro resident Jim Sage said. "Children's safety is paramount, but is this a hidden tax coming up with a referendum because it will exceed the two percent cap? There are a lot of people in this town that can't afford an increase in taxes."
Barr-Rague said the current, temporary plan to put officers in schools will not raise taxes. However, if the board decided to continue with the program, a later budget discussion will be conducted with the public.
Marlboro resident Pamela Karp said, "We wear seat belts regardless of whether or not it will save our life every single time. We buy cars with airbags to take every precaution, knowing that it can't save us in every single situation. However, many times it can. That's what we hope for, and that's what we bet on."
Marlboro in the Media
And while opinions differed, many parents commented on the uncomfortable nature of the extended media coverage Marlboro has experience since the new program was announced.
Members of the board assured parents all suggestions will be taken into consideration, and moving forward Abbott said he will not be speaking publicly to the media about school security measures.
"I am not going to talk about security in schools publicly," Abbott said. "After the second day, I stopped all interviews. I would rather they would have never come her, but unfortunately thats not the way the world was made. I'm moving behind the scenes."
Board Vice President Victoria Dean read a prepared statement, in which she criticized local officials for appearing
"This decision should have been one for the board to consider with our township and parents. Unfortunately, that has not been the case," Dean said. "It has been so troubling to me over these past couple of weeks to see the endless news stories regarding the decision that this Board of Education must make.
In an effort to be a part of the dialogue during a national discussion, there are those who's intentions might have been well intended, but in the process have put our children in great peril."
Abbott and Lilonsky assured the public that the security discussions detailing any further plans would be had behind closed doors and in conjunction with the police department.