Members of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District administration were at the Italian-American Citizens Club on Thursday, Dec. 4, to explain the upcoming bond vote which will take place on Thursday, Dec. 17. School Superintendent Dr. Laura Seinfeld, School Board President Ann Marie Longo and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Stephen Valente helped explain the two bond propositions. A short video about the bond was shown to residents and a question and answer session was held afterwards.
Many people focused their questions on the security features in (bond) proposition 2 and wanted a better understanding of how the new security measures help overall student safety in the schools and the costs of these new features.
One woman at the meeting asked about the new security cameras being installed and that if they were to break down would it be the taxpayer’s responsibility to cover the cost.
“As far as if the security cameras break down or need updating, who will cover those costs?” asked the resident.
“These would be additional cameras needed to cover any unseen areas of our school and the answer is yes we take care of it, it would come out of our operating budget,” said Seinfeld.
Longo followed up on that question, saying that the Nassau County Police Department and BOCES have a safety plan in place if a school’s security camera system falters.
“If that were to occur both agencies have a security backup on their own system,” said Longo.
Another resident asked how the district will go about hiring new school security and checking people’s backgrounds.
“A lot of people we are interviewing for security positions are ex-law enforcement personnel and many of them have extensive security backgrounds,” said Valente. “In fact I have more than 20 interviewees on my schedule.”
Seinfeld said that the current staff that is in place has been going through safety policies and procedures.
“They have been through drills of what to do and what not to do in a crisis situation, but like you saw with the shooting in San Bernadino, there are no guarantees in anything,” said Seinfeld.
A resident who said he was a parent of a student in the district, said he had a problem with the idea of a security vestibule in the schools.
“The problem I have is that they’re carving up these entrances and installing vestibules where people will have to run their licenses through a scanner,” said the resident. “A piece of software is then going to tell if you’re a sexual predator or have custody issues or the like and I think that is a real mistake. It is a big portion of this cost and frankly I think that’s fiscally irresponsible.”
He added that security in the schools could work just fine with buzzing people in at the main doors and having bullet proof glass installed.
“We need security and we need to spend money but I don’t think this is the right answer,” he said. “In my opinion, you’re not making it any safer by having people scan their licenses.”
Another woman said that the vestibules and scanners might be a little much, with 65 percent of taxpayer money going towards the security upgrades.
“If a person wants to make trouble they will find a way if they’re determined whether it’s outside school property on the buses or on the sports fields,” said the woman.
Dr. Seinfeld responded by saying that “we are living in a different world than when most of us went to school. We try our best to provide a safe/ learning and welcome environment for our students and our community and try to be sensitive to our taxpayers at the same time.”