Updated 1:17 p.m.
Since last month’s tragic school shooting in Connecticut that horrified the nation, safety of schools has been a widespread topic.
And this week, Newark City Council will vote on a proposal that could help police and school officials address violence before it escalates.
City Council will vote Thursday on whether to authorize Mayor Al Nagy to sign an agreement with the Newark Unified School District for a School Liaison Officer program, according to the council’s Jan. 10 agenda.
The agreement will allow the Newark Police Department to assign a part-time school liaison officer who can provide law enforcement services at Newark Junior High School and MacGregor Continuation School.
The move toward hiring a liaison officer is part of a the police department and school district’s planned effort to address issues of violence at Newark Junior High, according to the city council agenda.
Newark Unified has gone without a school resource officer at its junior high and alternative education center since 2010.
Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken said while the city's agenda notes that there has been an issue of "increased violence" at the junior high school, Newark Junior High has actually seen less incidents of violence in recent years.
Marken emphasized that the school liaison officer's primary role would be to help prevent violence and that the officer would also be made available to assist in providing resources to the district's elementary schools as well.
If authorized, the agreement allows for the officer to serve on the two campuses about four hours per day, four days per week – costing the Newark Unified School District approximately $50,000 per school year.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Newark Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken expressed sympathy for the community of Newtown but noted that Newark Unified takes various precautions to keep its students safe.
“We have and we will continue to conduct lockdown drills and safety drills and have sent out safety talking tips," Marken said. "We still maintain that our schools are the safest place for our kids to be and we believe that."
Still, parents expressed anxiety over the safety of their children.
“Not many of us parents feel that our children are safe at school, and everytime we turn on the news it gets worse. We are about 1 or 2 of these attacks away from keeping our children home and safe,” a Patch reader who goes by NewBomb Turk commented.
Parents, do you think Newark Junior High and MacGregor Continuation School needs a school liaison officer? How do you rank your child’s school’s safety policies? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.