Benton Harbor passes new security proposal for schools - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Benton Harbor passes new security proposal for schools

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"It was a win for the students, a win for the district, and the city of Benton Harbor," says Superintendent Leonard Seawood.
    
It's been decided. Benton Harbor schools will have fewer security members on staff, but the Superintendent says it doesn't mean students will be any less safe. 

The district will retain many of the current security guards and they will become reserve officers, trained professionally by the FBI and Michigan State Police.

"This will allow us to continue to build relationships with our youth and law enforcement. That's very important  that our officers are there to support this community, and we're looking for a different type of relationship," says Seawood.

The district will pay the city $236,000 for the service.

That will save the district $136,000 from what they paid for security now.

However, a proposal from a private company, Sodexo, could have saved the district another $10 thousand.

Board member Joseph Taylor says with the district as cash-strapped as it is, it doesn't make sense to pay more.

But other board members point out, the district is getting more with the city's contract. They get to keep current employees, make them full time, give them a $4 raise, plus provide them with police training.

The proposal also makes clear that officers will not be armed with guns, handcuffs or mace, a concern formerly raised by the community.

"I'm glad we were able to negotiate something that works to satisfy our residents and something that works to satisfy all of the stakeholders involved, namely the parents because they were very concerned about that," says Board Member Sharon James.

The final vote was 4-2 in favor of the city's proposal.

The Superintendent says there won't be an officer at every one of Benton Harbor Schools, but there will be one who hops around the entire district.

The district wants to start training officers soon, school starts September 3rd.

For residents who have questions about the board's decision, they can meet with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent on Thursday from 5-7pm at the High School.

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