Board member wants to revisit idea of security personnel in buildings

by Judy Stringer

June 13 school board meeting

Hudson City Schools Board of Education member Alisa Wright said she would like the board to reconsider hiring in-building security officers amid growing safety concerns.

Wright said she believes what used to be “anxiety” about school shootings “has essentially morphed into fear.”

“I think our kids are experiencing fear,” she said. “We’re dealing with something different than we had been dealing with, and I think it also is extending to our staff, our teachers, and it’s fear.”

Assistant Superintendent Doreen Osmun said the district’s parent and staff safety advisory committee – formed after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. – had studied the possibility of having more on-site student resource officers and how that might be funded. Currently, the Hudson Police Department provides two SROs to the district at no charge.

“We can resurrect that research, whether it’s security or SROs, and how to fund it,” Osmun said.

Board member James Field said he would not advocate for hiring additional security “simply to alleviate people’s fear.”

“I would rather address that fear by talking about what the risks are and the best ways to reduce it,” he said.

The parent and staff safety advisory committee convened on June 6, a meeting that was planned before the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, according to Field, who represents the committee on the school board. He said subcommittees vet various ideas and recommendations.

“Everything is looked at and discussed at least in these [sub]committees, so nothing is dismissed,” he said. “There is no one answer. It’s multiple things that you try and do to reduce the risk.”

Osmun and board members highlighted several safety measures already in place meant to protect students and staff. Those include buzz-in security vestibules at main entrances and software that screens visitor IDs. Wright cited Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak saying at the June 6 committee meeting that the department’s philosophy is to go in and “neutralize” a treat, “even if it’s one [officer] responder.”

Board Vice President Steve DiMauro said he would like a general timeline of when to expect any new recommendations from the safety committee based on how school security was breached in Uvalde. He said several people asked him specifically about whether administrators would know if a door had been left ajar by someone inside the building. 

1927 building update

The salvage of “artifacts” from the 1927 portion of the former Hudson Middle School should be complete by the end of the month, paving the way for demolition, said Operations Director Tom Barone. The district hopes to have demolition complete in mid-August before school resumes.

In late May, the board signed off on a resolution allowing Hudson Heritage Association to salvage and store architectural components of the 1927 building façade for a historical structure to be agreed upon later. It also accepted a $170,000 donation with the John and Alison Quagliata Family Foundation to retain, for the next 99 years, the approximately 2.7 acres where the 1927 building sits for “uses consistent with public school purposes” and preserve its “oak tree alley.”

Communication Manager Jennifer Reece also told the board bricks from the building will be salvaged and possibly sold to people interested in having a piece of the building.

In other meeting news:

  • Interim Superintendent Steve Farnsworth said incoming Superintendent Dana Addis, currently superintendent of Norton City Schools, will assume his new post on Aug. 1.
  • The board approved the appointment of Hudson High School counselor Cecilia Frammartino-Kotlyn to unit principal, replacing Mike Miller, who was recently named principal of the school. The two-year contract, beginning Aug. 1, carries with it a $92,000 annual salary. Frammartino-Kotlyn has been a counselor at HHS since 2019, coming to the district from Woodridge Local School District and a school district in Florida. ∞