VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler City Schools will add a new layer of safety at all five of its schools this fall. Armed School Safety Officers (SSO) will be placed in each building to augment safety measures that have been put in place over the past year.
Superintendent Rob O’Leary was authorized by the Board of Education to negotiate a contract with G2G Solutions, a security firm based in the Miami Valley. The company is run by President and co-founder Mark Stusek, a veteran of the Dayton Police Department who retired in 2003 after 25+ years of service.
The move is in response to the increase in deadly school shootings around the nation.
“We are one of the only schools, if not the only one, in the county that doesn’t have a school resource officer at least at the high school,” said O’Leary. “We want to have somebody in all five buildings. The statistics say that most of these things happen at the high school level, but Sandy Hook was at an elementary school. We want to protect all of our students and staff.”
Hiring resource officers through the Vandalia and/or Butler Township Police Departments ultimately proved to be cost prohibitive for all five buildings. While the final cost of this contract is still be determined, it will likely be close to half of what it would have cost to hire full time officers through local police departments.
“We are not putting a price tag on the safety of our students, but we do feel this is a very good way for us to manage our resources in the district while having someone in every one of our buildings who is highly trained, vetted, has experience, a thorough background check, and will work well with the district and local law enforcement.”
The SSOs will likely be retired law enforcement or military personnel. They will be required to undergo a psychological evaluation as well as extensive background checks with the Ohio BCI and FBI. While G2G will ultimately hire the SSOs, the school district can ask for an officer to be removed at any time.
“We feel we can get very qualified retired law enforcement who still have that calling and desire to protect and serve or people who may be looking to continue that type of work but just not in law enforcement,” O’Leary said.
Safety has been an ongoing focal point of the district. Nearly $175,000 has been spent in the past year to install key fob entries at all buildings, enhanced security cameras with real-time links to local police departments, improved lighting, and make operational changes at the district’s BASE program. Many of those recommendations were the result of a security audit performed by G2G in February after the Parkland, Fl. school shooting.
“We did the audit not to make people feel good, but because we wanted to know,” said O’Leary. “We found some places we were vulnerable and made corrections. We found some processes and procedures we need to to better, but at the end of the day it was all about valuing the lives with which we are entrusted. We take that seriously.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.