GOSHEN - Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana has announced that the County will be funding local school districts to the total of $1.2 million, approximately $60,000 to each of the County’s 18 school districts, to supplement their school safety plans, which will be paid out over a 3 year period, pending approval by the Orange County Legislature.
"As a result of the recent school forums the County held, school districts have explained that they have their own unique needs in protecting their students," said County Executive Diana. "This initiative that we have announced today is an important way for the County to supplement local plans, with the goal of ultimately strengthening the security for the children of our County."
The County has assembled a five person, blue-ribbon board of experts consisting of school, mental health and law enforcement professionals to review written plans submitted by school districts in exchange for funding grants. Board members include: Terrence L. Olivo, Orange Ulster BOCES Chief Operating Officer and former Superintendent of the Monroe-Woodbury School District; Kenneth J. Maxwell, Vice President of Security at JetBlue Airways and retired lead investigator with the FBI for the World Trade Center bombings; John Melville, Orange County District Attorney’s Chief Investigator and former superintendent New York State Police; Dr. William Bassett, former BOCES Superintendent, as well as former Superintendent of Schools in Pine Bush; and, Chris Ashman, former Orange County Mental Health Commissioner. The board will be chaired by Deputy County Executive James D. O’Donnell, a former Colonel with the New York State Police and Troop F Commander, as well as Chief of Police for the MTA Police Department.
"The initiative being announced today will provide significant help to school districts in striking the delicate balance between meeting the instructional and co-curricular needs of the community it serves in a welcoming and accessible way, while at the same time taking responsible steps to help insure the health and safety of everyone," said Olivo.
"Consistent with the National Council for Behavioral Health, we urge our school districts to consider offering Mental Health First Aid training," said Orange County Mental Health Commissioner Darcie M. Miller. "The training will give our communities tools to assist them in identifying signs of mental illness and a path to help our children and teenagers get the appropriate care."
"Public safety is a top priority in the Diana administration," said Deputy County Executive James D. O’Donnell. "Those who have graciously accepted to serve on this panel are all experts in their field and bring a lot of experience with them. Their input will help make our schools safer."
"I would like to applaud the County Executive for this initiative, and I thank the panel for serving as well," said Chairman of the Orange County Legislature Michael R. Pillmeier. "I believe the full legislature will support this proposal, and I expect a 21-0 vote."