Parents across the Hudson Valley are not alone lately with their concerns about the safety of our local schools, especially in light of all the horrific mass shootings and terrifying situations that have happened recently.  Just yesterday, there was a threat here in the Hudson Valley that resulted in a 'lockout' at a Dutchess County Boces location.

As a parent of an elementary aged child in the Wappingers Central School District who has been struggling to process my feelings lately, I was happy to see an email in my inbox earlier this week with the title 'Wappingers CSD School Safety Update' originating from our superintendent.

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Earlier this week, Dr. Bonk sent a letter to the US Congress and Senate to request additional funds for trained School Resource Officers.  In his letter he cited that WCSD, due to size and number of schools, would end up needing an approximate 1.5 million dollars for School Resource Officers if federal funding is not made available.

An armed uniformed School Resource Officer, who works at a State/County or local police department, will be one way in which immediate steps can be taken to begin to address this major concern. I have the utmost confidence in the seven municipal police departments within our school district as we have worked collaboratively with them in the areas of school safety and violence prevention.

The Wappingers CSD Response Plan After Uvalde

In an email message to the district community on Wednesday June 8th, Dr. Dwight Bonk, Superintendent of Schools provided families with some insight as to what the district has been doing in response to the horrific massacre in Uvalde.

Dr. Bonk began by thanking those individuals who had reached out with suggestions on how to improve safety in the schools, or offer assistance.  He then went on to outline some of the activities and measures that the district is currently working on, including meeting with law enforcement partners to 'discuss new strategies in response to the Uvalde massacre,' as well as discussions on how local agencies can hero to provide coverage at elementary schools during arrival and dismissal times, on a daily basis, beginning in September.

The WCSD superintendent also said that the district completed an audit of all exterior doors to ensure that they not only close, but latch properly. 'We are also utilizing a single point of entry and exit for all staff in each of our schools and at the District Office.'

Continuing with security measures, the district has met with their security solutions vendor and talks are underway about enhancements to the current system in place, including the potential for use of a license plate reading system that will provide monitoring of vehicle coming onto school campuses.

Finally, Dr. Bonk shared the news that beginning in September of 2022, both John Jay and Roy C. Ketcham High Schools, along with Van Wyck and Wappingers Junior High Schools will have School Resource Officers

Mental Health Services & Other Local Response

School security measures was not the only focus of the update, Dr. Bonk also indicated that the district will add an additional four positions in the area of mental health services beginning in the 2022-23 school year, this in addition to the six that were added this past year.

In addition to the school safety updates from Wappingers, we also this week learned about Putnam Valley's School Safety Teams that they are going to be assembling after receiving a significant amount of money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

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