Crestwood approves superintendent’s plan to place officers at schools

By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader
Gorham -

WRIGHT TWP. — The Crestwood School Board this week approved a proposal by Superintendent Joseph Gorham to place qualified police officers at the Rice Township and Fairview Township schools to augment a security plan he wants to implement during the 2018-19 school term.

The board approved advertising for officers who will be on station during classroom time. The plan, however, must also be approved by Luzerne County courts, it was noted.

Besides the officers, Gorham outlined what he called Phase 1 of an initiative to increase security at schools. That includes having a single point of entry, enhanced notification and identification systems, and direct access to the police.

Gorham added that persons seeking to enter either school building will be required to show identification whether picking up a student or conducting business. Gorham said the systems and procedures “will happen immediately.”

In another policy decision, solicitor Jack Dean announced that a “Memorandum of Understanding” had been negotiated with professional employees in regard to extending the collective bargaining agreement to Aug. 31, 2021. The agreement also contained a clause by which the “Step By Step” academic program will be eliminated.

Dean’s announcement was greeted with applause and cheers from the teachers in attendance, although school director Joseph Kaminski believed the program had been effective.

Kaminski also took issue with Dean about comments he made that under the agreement, no programs would be eliminated.

Dean pointed out, however, that a committee will meet at the end of the school year “to review the academic progress of students who would have been subjected to the Step By Step program.”

In other matters:

• The board accepted the operating budget of the Wilkes-Barre Area Career & Technical Center.

• Directors voted to terminate “Employee 4487.” There was no comment about the individual or the reasons for disciplinary action.

• A recommendation to enter into an agreement with Mohegan Sun Arena for 2018 graduation exercises was accepted. The rental fee for the June 10 event was set at $4,500.

• During public comment, three Mountain Top area residents took issue with payments to Hunt Engineers for a survey report on the state of Crestwood’s school buildings; school busing contracts; allocations to special education and the implementation of curriculum programs.

• Gorham read a letter from Tom Benz, a 1986 Crestwood graduate, who pledged funding to the various foundation groups of the district and encouraged the “restoration of a working partnership” between the education association, school board and administration.


By Tom Huntington

For Times Leader