62
      Tuesday
      87 / 64
      Wednesday
      86 / 63
      Thursday
      86 / 61

      The cost of police presence in the Marquette school district

      Classes resumed Thursday for students of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. They were back in school for the first time since the massacre in December.

      More than 400 students are attending classes at a refurbished elementary school in neighboring Monroe. Police were on site throughout the first day providing security at the new school. Parents were also encouraged to join their children in classrooms throughout the day.

      Following the shooting, the National Rifle Association called on Congress to put armed police officers in every school. Some districts across the country have responded to the call to action.

      In the Marquette Area Public Schools, security is under constant review, said district superintendent Debbie Veiht.

      "We've come together, looking at, and making sure that security is a priority within the district," said Veiht.

      The district currently has one school liaison officer through the Marquette City Police Department. That officer spends most of their time at the high school but makes visits to other buildings and runs safety programs.

      The position is funded jointly through the district, police department, and the Kaufman Foundation. Adding a permanent officer at each of the district's five other buildings would be a big change.

      "Well, there's cost and then there's philosophy," Veiht said.

      "It could become quite expensive," said Marquette City Police Chief Mike Angeli. "An officer in this area, including benefits, might range from $50,000-$80,000 a year."

      "If the board made the decision that we had to do that, we would find the money to make it happen," Veiht added. "However, philosophically, is that the right message we want to send to our children?"

      Veiht said regular drills are conducted with students so they are prepared for the worst-case scenario. Law enforcement teams also participate in mock-shooter drills during the summer.

      "Within two minutes, a police officer can be at any one of our schools," Veiht said.

      Thursday morning, administrators from each of the Marquette schools met with leaders from the city police and fire departments, part of ongoing communication and efforts to keep students safe.

      "This is a larger effort that we're having, and it's a great time to be doing this, not only because of what happened in Connecticut at Sandy Hook, it's just a good time for Marquette Area Public Schools to do that, too," Veiht said.

      "Parents can, rest assured, that that is happening and it's not something that's being overlooked," Angeli added.