The Valley Central Board of Education voted unanimously on Wednesday, August 10, to approve inter-municipal agreements which would move ahead a security plan to have police officers as school resource officers stationed in every school building when the school year begins this September.
“I believe this will increase the security and safety of our students and staff in our schools,” expressed Board of Education President Joseph Bond.
Earlier last week, the District approved the appointment of Stephen Ragni as Director of Security for the district, effective August 9. Ragni, a Marine Veteran, has been a member of the Town of Montgomery Police Department since 2011. He also has 12 years of experience with the FBI, 20 years with the Town of Haverstraw Police and a stint in the security detail of the U.S. Naval Headquarters in London.
In addition, the District approved Nancy Fitzsimmons as the Social Emotional Support Specialist. She has experience in the Department of Corrections, worked in the Office of Children and Family Services, St. John Bosco Child and Family Services and McQuade Children’s Services. In addition, she is a New York State Certified Special Education teacher and literacy teacher who holds certifications in other areas at building and district levels.
“The roles that Steve and Nancy will take on will complement each other and are critical to a healthy learning environment. (The positions are) so critical that they will report directly to the Superintendent,” said Bond.
Bond expressed his sincere thanks to all parties working together to make the proposed plan come to fruition.
Town of Montgomery Supervisor Brian Maher said the municipality is prepared to provide officers for the seven schools in the district (Valley Central High School, Middle School, Berea Elementary, East Coldenham Elementary, Walden Elementary, Montgomery Elementary and ALC at Maybrook). In addition, he shared that the town will respect whatever decision the school district makes with the other municipalities with regard to preference to have their own officers in their neighborhood schools.
The Newburgh Town Board tabled a planned discussion of an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Montgomery that was scheduled for Monday, August 8, and is expected to consider the proposal at a work session later this month. In June, Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio expressed to the Wallkill Valley Times that he was open to suggestions that would improve school security.