TAYLOR — When students return to class in the Riverside School District after holiday break, they will find armed police officers inside their schools.
The school board in that part of Lackawanna County approved the money to pay for the police presence.
Pamela Piragas’ grandson just started kindergarten in the Riverside School District. When school starts up again after the New Year, she said she’ll feel better putting him on the bus.
“It was just devastating to hear what happened in Newtown. It’s just terrible. It’s awful. I would be just devastated to hear if anything happened to him or my other granddaughter,” said Piragas.
Those were the thoughts of Riverside school directors too.
They have worked out a plan with police in Taylor and Moosic to put armed officers in the Riverside Junior/Senior High School and in the district’s two elementary schools.
“I think, with all the stuff going on in the world today, that’s a very good idea, and it’s just wonderful,” added Piragas.
Police officials said an officer from Moosic will be stationed at Riverside East Elementary, and officers from Taylor Police will be at Riverside West and the high school. They’ll be called school resource officers.
Taylor Police Chief Leonard Mickavicz said the resource officers are a necessary step for school security and will help his department.
“It does cut down on incidents. It frees up the officers on the street. It’s having another police officer to help us, that’s the bottom line,” said Chief Mickavicz.
Police added that there are still a lot of details to work out with the school district, including how long the resource officers will be at the schools and what their duties will be, but they said one thing is for sure. A police officer will be inside the schools on January 2.
Taylor’s police chief said he won’t need to hire more police officers to cover the schools, but part-time officers may get more hours.
Newswatch 16 contacted Riverside’s superintendent and school board president to see how much the school resource officers will cost the district and how they plan to pay for them. Our calls were not returned.