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Orange County public schools to share $1.2 million for school safety

GOSHEN – The 14 public school districts and BOCES in Orange County will now be eligible for a share of $1.2 million in county funds that have been set aside for school safety programs.

The proposal was first advanced by County Executive Edward Diana. It called for a committee of experts in the fields of law enforcement, education and mental health to review district proposals and allocate the funds. Legislators wanted more input so Daniel Castricone and Diana, both Republicans,  worked out a compromise where the committee would recommend how to appropriate the funds, but the legislature would have the final say.

During discussion before the legislature’s vote on Thursday, Castricone said there is no way to make schools perfectly safe since we live in a free society.

“The purpose of this resolution is to get the school districts within Orange County to begin to focus on new ideas about how they can make their facilities safer, whether that be physically hardening the school or more likely to focus on mental health issues inside of the school,” Castricone said.

Each district will be allowed to craft a customized plan to meet their needs.

The funding will be spread out over a three-year period.

Legislator Thomas Pahucki, a Democrat, voted against the resolution saying it is not about school safety or the money, but it is a feel-good resolution in reaction to the Newtown tragedy.