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Air Conditioning and Security Personnel in Proposed 2019-20 School Budget

Hot classroomIn response to parents concerns about overheated schools on hot days and school security, the school administration is addressing both concerns with funding in the proposed 2019-20 school budget.

At the budget study session on Monday night February 4, Assistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick presented a plan for heat relief on days where the temperature soars to 90 degrees and above.

Patrick explained that the district has surveyed all buildings to determine the number of spaces that are currently cooled and to assess how individual air conditioning units could be used to cool enough space so that every student would have access to a cooled room, even if “that means sharing a large instructional space.”

In order to address the shortfall of cool rooms, the district is proposing to add 55 window air conditioners “strategically placed” across the district with split units for the Heathcote pods common spaces. Though they acknowledge this is a short-term solution, the units have an expected lifespan of seven years and will give the district more time to come up with a longer terms solution.

The cost to install these units is estimated at $310,000 and the money would be taken from the surplus funds allocated for Butler Field. The cost to air condition the entire district is estimated to be $45 million.

In addition to these units, both the Quaker Ridge and Fox Meadow libraries would be air conditioned so that they would be on parity with other schools, where the new library at Edgewood is air conditioned and there are plans to air condition the Greenacres library during the upcoming renovation. The cost to cool the Quaker Ridge and Fox Meadow libraries is estimated at $385,000.

For the longer term, Patrick said the district is working with Con Edison Solutions to come up with sustainable plans to cool educational spaces.

In the discussion that followed the proposal, Board Members had some comments.

Lee Maude said, “My gut reaction is that a wall unit is a good solution for something that happens 8 days a year as opposed to $45 million to cool the whole district.”

Chris Morin asked, “What are you thinking about the gyms?” He was told, “It’s part of the long term plan.”

Bill Natbony said, “I have a concern overall about the dollar amounts when I see $600,00 for a piecemeal approach that may or may not be part of a permanent solution.” ….”The public has said to us that this is a high priority item. I think we owe it to them to get to a long-term solution more quickly. I wonder if we can hold off on the $600,000 expenditure now for a longer-term solution more quickly. I see this as patchwork that may not be part of the long-term solution.”

The $695,000 for cooling is now in the estimated budget and will continue to be considered in the scope of the total budget.

School Security

Increased security is also in the proposed budget.

The district is considering both additional mental health and emotional support for students along with infrastructure improvements and safety personnel on site at each building.

Toward that goal, the district hopes to retain one additional full time psychologist and an additional teacher at SHS for academic support.

In terms of building security, the district plans to have two contracted security staffers at each elementary school building to cover the buildings for 16 hours a day and remain at the schools until 5 pm. “Their roles would be to manage the new security vestibules and to be an indoor and outdoor roving safety security monitor.”

At the middle school an additional safety person would allow for coverage from the early morning to the early evening when there are a large number of student related activities. Total safety personnel at the school would be two.

And the high school, two security guards would monitor entrances from early morning through the evening and there would be 16 hours of coverage on Saturdays when the building is open for athletics and other activities.

The total cost for the security measures are as follows: Note that the $186,624 for Mike Spedaliere, the Chief of Safety, Security and Emergency Management from Altaris, is already in the 2018-19 school budget.


In the discussion that followed, Board member Chris Morin said, “I understand the need for security personnel – but I am not sure of the need for 2 at each school.”

He continued, “Why is our visitor flow so large that we require two? Can we have relief by the office staff? It seems like an awful lot of resource to manage a simple problem. Now that we have vestibules, cameras and buzzers, do we really need so many new people carrying out activities that we have been carrying out?”

Stuart Mattey responded, “These are enhanced activities – carried out in the best way possible. The second person will look outward to see what’s going, on .. speak to a stranger that might be walking through the park. Checking the doors inside the building to make sure they are closed.”

Dr. Hagerman explained, “There are more functions to this role than visitor management during the school day. What about a weekend play practice? Who is managing the door and helping out during an emergency. We also think there is high value in having a rover. Almost all schools have many community events which require a large amount of people to come in and use the schools.”

These funds will also be considered in the context of the entire budget at future budget study sessions. See more details on the proposals here.

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