14 Comments

  1. Kathy Conlon

    Tom…thank you for this info. I have no valid suggestions…only one thought comes to mind…do away with the SRO. Problem solved.
    Kathy Conlon

  2. Lisa Smith Reed

    Thank you for this. I am not a fan of the school district nor of the way we are taxed (high property taxes for below average school services.) Why are we paying for the officer? Northgate should use the money they get from the taxpayer to pay for the officer by reimbursing Bellevue for the leased services. Bellevue pays the officer’s salary and while he or she is working at the school, the school is billed by Bellevue just like any other private business would be for using borough services.

    • Hi Lisa, I’m Vencent Menosky, Bellevue Councilmen. The borough pays for the officer when he is doing borough work. When he is at the school we currently pay only 30% of his wages. I’m not sure how many hours a week he does either.

  3. Jason Cooper

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention Tom. The amount we pay in school taxes is disgusting. Northgate SD has one of the highest tax rates in the state (http://www.openpagov.org/property_taxes.asp) and we are far from being one of the top schools. If the cost of the SRO’s salary can’t be distributed equally, the officer should not be at the school. Bellevue residents are already getting crushed by the weight of school taxes — we don’t need to be paying any more than our share.

    Out of curiosity, did the council members who voted against the motion offer any rationale as to why they were against it? That seems so bizarre that anyone on the Bellevue Council would be against something so obviously in the interest of Bellevue residents.

    • tomfodi

      It was definitely an odd scenario because two people voted against the motion I favored to go to 100% funding via the school district AND the motion to gradually reduce the burden carried solely by Bellevue taxpayers. It was my understanding of some who voted “NO” that they were fearful that if the school district funded the entire program they might seek a less expensive option for school security. My understanding of their opinion is that if we don’t pay the 30% we lose our “stake” in the situation and it would be up to the school district to decide who provides the security.

    • Hi Jason, Councilmen Vencent Menosky here. There are a couple of reasons I voted no.
      1. I did not want to send our Mayor back to the school without anything to bring to the table. Just to say we deny your 70/30 proposal and we are not willing to pay anything I feel doesn’t build for a good relationship for open discussions.
      2. The school does have the right to hire outside the borough. If that were to happen our police dept. loses their relationships with the students that go further than just the school grounds. As of right now we have a good insight on who is who. So I feel if we do not pay anything, they might for a cheaper option. If they chose to hire a different means of security the chief of police stated that we would then have to send officers to the school if there was a problem due to the security not having any arresting powers in our borough.
      In closing, I hope that all three parties can find a fair way to pay for the safety of our children. I do not agree that Bellevue should pay any amount while Avalon doesn’t pay anything besides their school taxes. But I also do not want to lose what seems to be a great asset of our police officer protecting and being a insider while building relationships with our kids. Some will state that if the school loves the current SRO they should pay for him. While that may hold some ground, we are talking money and they do have options.

  4. Barbara Streba

    I’m wondering what other school districts do in this exact situation. Does the state kick in funds for protection? We wanted our students to be safer and arguing who pays for what seems to be splitting hairs. In your example Tom, don’t forget to add the tip, you should split that too right? If the officer is also a member of the police force of Bellevue, he has duties to fulfill as well for Bellevue, not Avalon. so he’s the chef, the waitress and the bus boy for Bellevue. That’s a big responsibility. I would probably say that maybe a retired police officer for example, could and would deserve a full time position, paid by the school, after all both Avalon and Bellvue pay the high property taxes to the school. But that’s just my take on it. By the way, you are amazing!

  5. Although Tom’s figures are theoretical, since Avalon students comprise about 36% and Bellevue has 64%, I believe that he makes a lot of sense in his analysis. However, Tom did not mention that the state paid 100% the first year, 67% the 2nd year and 33% the third year. Since then, Northgate has applied for grants and we received $90,000 a couple of years ago. We will keep applying for future grants. Tom is also correct that most school districts pay 100% of the SRO wages. Our SRO only serves Bellevue Elementary and the Junior/Senior High School since the buildings are in Bellevue. Avalon Elementary is served by the Avalon Police Department when needed. Public Safety Committee Chairman, Matt Senvisky and I will be meeting with the Interim Superintendent to discuss possible alternative payment scenarios. I believe that we have to work with the school board for the best solution for providing a safe environment for our students. The SRO provides that safety. We hope to recommend an acceptable proposal to Bellevue Council at the June 28th meeting.

  6. mindy messenger

    I left Bellevue because in my experience with northgate school district was awful, kids can walk right out the door. The SRO or OTHER STAFF in the building don’t even know most of the time,unless they have a reason to check the cameras. What is the point for even having the SRO in the building. The kids still do what they want. Why pay for him to do a job he isn’t doing? If northgate wants him there they can pay for him.

  7. Terri tuma

    Although that doesn’t seem quite fair to Bellevue I am echoing what a lot of comments mention. Our school taxes are absolutely ridiculous. For a walking district I just can’t figure out the extremely high rate we pay. This is a sub par district and we all need to stand up to the board.

  8. Linda Woshner

    Let me clarify some points about the SRO negotiations. Council has negotiated in good faith. For many years, Bellevue bore the majority of the costs. Avalon has refused to contribute. Last year, we offered a 75%/25% split with Northgate paying the 75% for one year and then 100% after that. The school board came back with 70%/30% for 3 years. In a spirit of cooperation with the school board, we agreed to 70%/30% for the 2015/2016 school year and then 100% after that. What happened to that agreement? Have they negotiated with Avalon to contribute?

    At our council meeting, we were told if the SRO officer is not in the cafeteria the children fight. It is the school’s responsibility to control the children. If the administration cannot control their students, they need different administrators. It is in our agreement with the school that the officer is not to be a disciplinarian.

    I am not saying the school should not have an SRO officer. Northgate needs to assess the importance of having an SRO officer. It is their responsibility. Many schools do not see the need to have an SRO officer but most of those which do pay the full cost. The Bellevue police can conduct the DARE curriculum and other education programs. It is beneficial for our children to know the police officers. We have many events in our community to promote this interaction. Bellevue does not have unlimited funds and could use that money to improve our parks which are an embarrassment. Our children need a place to play and hangout. Playgrounds have an array of benefits for children.

    • The SRO is not a disciplinarian. However, he does prevent a lot of things from happening. Also, it is the responsibility of the Bellevue Police Department to provide security for anyone within our borough. If someone from Ross Twp. is robbed in Bellevue, we do not call the Ross Twp. police to handle it. According to the website of NASRO.org, the SRO is doing police work as well as building relationships, educating, counceling. and protecting our students. It is a collaborative effort by the borough and school district to be pro-active, not re-active, to ensure the safety of Northgate students. I would rather we prevent than just clean up afterwards. Last year (2015 – 2016) the borough paid about $13,700 of the cost. That is about $1.65 per resident of Bellevue. Money well spent. We have worked well with the school board and I hope we can continue to find common ground.

    • Linda Woshner

      I would like to correct my above post. I am told by a reliable source it is not true if the SRO officer is not in the cafeteria the kids fight. Unfortunately, council was mislead. I apologize for the incorrect post.

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