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Monessen School Board adds police officer for elementary center

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

Because of scheduling complications, the Monessen School Board unanimously hired a fifth part-time armed police officer Tuesday to guard the elementary center entrance.

Howard Rider, a part-time Monessen police officer, will help fill shifts four previously hired officers are unable to work.

On one day, Superintendant Linda Marcolini and elementary center Principal Bethanne Natali took turns manning the entrance.

Monessen security director John Bachinski said one of the officers had just begun a two-week vacation, which created scheduling holes. All the school officers work part time elsewhere. Bachinski told the board he does not anticipate additional scheduling conflicts this school year.

The board on Jan. 15 hired part-time officers David Winkler, Chris Moody, Charles Kozar and Christopher Gray.

School director Cheryl Galilei said the board should consider hiring a full-time officer next year to prevent scheduling lapses and conflicts.

Marcolini said after the meeting that the district should explore Galilei's suggestion and pursue grant money.

“Our first priority is to get through the rest of this year,” Marcolini said. “I don't know what we can do budget-wise for next year, but we could look into possibly hiring a retired officer who still gets benefits, on salary-only.”

Board president Sharon Mauck said she just wants the shifts covered as soon as possible. She agreed a full-time officer might be a better long-term solution.

“I don't care if you have eight officers,” Mauck said. “Assuring the security of our kids is our number one priority. It's not a game of musical chairs.”

The board also approved recommendations regarding the discipline of five students. Marcolini and Mauck indicated the discipline did not involve expulsions. Recommendations for four students came on Jan. 30 and the other student on Feb. 7. All five are back in school, Mauck said.

Before the meeting, more than two dozen parents packed the room to watch Marcolini present her first quarterly Superintendent Awards. Nine elementary students, three middle school students and five high school students received certificates for outstanding grades, attendance and citizenship.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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