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School Safety Group Selects Candidates For Saratoga Springs School Board

A group that organized after the Saratoga Springs City School District decided to disarm certain grounds monitors is entering the upcoming race for school board.

The Saratoga Springs city school board elections are a little more than three months away, but a group focused on placing armed guards in the district has already lined up a slate of candidates.

Kara Rosettie, a member of the Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools group, says each of the three endorsed candidates has at least one child in the district. She said several people were interviewed without regard to political party.

“We wanted to make sure that school security wasn’t their only issue. We wanted to make sure they had a broad band of issues that they actually were coming to be on the school board for. But we wanted to make sure that they were strong on school security,” said Rosettie.

District elections for the three open seats on the school board are May 21st.

Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools was formed last year after the school board decided to remove firearms from some school grounds monitors. The grounds monitors include retired police officers trained to carry guns. After that, the district still maintained an armed school resource officer in a partnership with the city police department.

The issue sparked a community argument on both sides of the issue.

At a community forum in December, Saratoga Springs School District Superintendent Michael Patton announced his recommendation to hire an additional school resource officer. 

“We are very, very fortunate that Saratoga Springs Police Department helps support all of our city schools, but jurisdictionally, once you get outside the city limits, it would be us partnering with the Sheriff’s Department. And so that additional school resource officer would be housed at the middle school but would be available to support both Dorothy Nolan and Greenfield Elementary School,” said Patton.

Partnering with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Saratoga Springs City School District recently hired Deputy Ryan Mahan as an additional SRO.

Kara Rosettie praised the decision to bring on another school resource officer.

“But unfortunately, if Ryan is at one of the elementary schools or at middle school and something happens at one of the other schools that they’re responsible for, because he’s responsible for three of the schools, it’s not different than calling 911 and his ability to get there that fast,” said Rosettie.

The move to hire an additional SRO was also backed up by a school safety study conducted by the New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal.

Insurance rep Bob Blaisdell, who appeared at the same December forum where the superintendent made the announcement that he would seek a new school resource officer, commended the school’s relationship with local law enforcement. He praised the district’s security protocols even without armed grounds monitors.

“I think you’ve got a top-tier program with the people that you have in place, and the people and their predecessors, honestly, that put programs in place that make Saratoga City School District one of the top-tier school districts, in my opinion, around the state,” said Blaisdell.

The study made some specific recommendations on improving school security. Blaisdell said if grounds monitors were rearmed, several controls would need to be in place.

The group Saratogians for Gun Safety, which has supported the decision to remove guns from grounds monitors, told WAMC Friday it has not yet endorsed any candidates for school board.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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