AGSD to hire Director of School Safety and Security, school police officer

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At its April 25 meeting, the Avon Grove School District (AGSD) Board of Directors approved a $115,146,393 million proposed final budget for the 2024-25 school year that includes $1.62 million in numerous capital safety and security enhancements and an increased investment in mental health supports for students. The budget includes a 0% tax increase for district property owners.

Over the last year, the district engaged in a process to evaluate safety and security, beginning with a thorough risk assessment conducted by national specialists. The district also gathered general feedback on safety and security perceptions, experiences, and opinions during a series of focus groups held in early 2024 that were open to everyone in the community. Along with online feedback forms, the district was able to collect input from students, staff, parents, school board members and residents. This information, along with thorough research, led to the recommendation for a multi-pronged plan:

  • Avon Grove will directly hire a Director of School Safety and Security, a position that has to date been contracted through the Chester County Intermediate Unit. Bringing the position into the district allows for greater focus and autonomy.
  • Avon Grove School District will directly hire a School Safety and Security Specialist/ School Police Officer (SPO), who will report to the Director of School Safety and Security. This individual will be a sworn and armed police officer employed by the Avon Grove School District, will be plain-clothed, and will focus on fostering safety and positive relationships with students, staff and community members. Avon Grove is one of five districts in Chester County that does not currently have an armed officer on duty patrolling school district property.
  • Arriving at this recommendation involved consultation with local Pennsylvania State Police leadership, who are supportive of the addition of this position. The district’s relationship with State Police will remain unchanged and they will continue to respond to incidents at the district and support our safety efforts.
  • The district will provide comprehensive communication and education about the position and role in the coming months, with a goal of hiring an officer to be employed for the start of the 2024-25 school year.
  • The district will continue to contract security services with Signal Security who provide security personnel that will be assigned to each of our schools.
  • Avon Grove will continue to employ three mental health therapists and contract with a local counseling service provider to offer school-based mental health counseling for students (with parental consent) who may require additional support. The district recognizes the importance of a continued commitment and investment in mental health supports, as well as fostering a positive, supportive and inclusive environment through a range of services.
  • The district will begin to implement a thorough multi-year infrastructure improvement plan that addresses security and safety in District-owned facilities. Included in these plans are upgrades such as new window/door replacements, door access controls, and continued technology updates for equipment such as cameras, secure entrance improvements, and new fencing.

The specific details of safety and security plans are confidential; however, the district shared its continued focus and commitment to this topic.

“I am extremely pleased with this plan and the process that the administration engaged in to address safety and security in such a thorough and comprehensive manner,” said School Board President Bonnie Wolff. “This provides a significant investment into safety and security, while also being fiscally responsible and wisely allocating our resources.”

Through the aforementioned strategies and continued improvement planning, the district aims to uphold its commitment to fostering a supportive learning environment for all students and establishing healthy systems conditions. The approved budget proposal continues the district’s investment in supporting high-quality teaching and learning, while avoiding a tax increase for community members.

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