Liberty Schools add officer on campus

LIBERTY — Liberty Local Schools and the township police department have agreed a police officer is needed to be on campus daily to watch the district’s three buildings.

The two have signed a contract that provides for an off-duty police officer in the schools 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

“We were glad to be able to sit down with the school officials and to be able to do this during the current times we are in,” police Chief Richard Tisone said.

So far, about seven officers have agreed to work in the schools. The pay is $23 an hour.

Superintendent Joseph Nohra said the district’s finances have improved to the point where it can provide the heightened security. The collaboration, he said, is “imperative for the safety of our children.”

“While we are confident in our current safety plan, approved by Homeland Security, we believe having the assistance of the Liberty PD will help us to create a positive relationship between our students and local law enforcement officers. Our goal is to maintain safe, secure and orderly learning environments for our students,” Nohra wrote in a letter sent to parents Monday.

Last week, school principals met with students to communicate with them they cannot threaten to harm each other or staff.

“We sent a letter to parents about the seriousness of making threats or even joking about threats. Our students need to know they must be careful what they say in school,” Nohra said.

In other business, the board approved open enrollment in the district from any school district.

Nohra said there is a concern because the district is losing more students than those who join through open enrollment.

“We are in a heated battle for students. When they leave it is harder to get them back,” Nohra said.

School Treasurer Bradley Panak said the district loses between 240 and 250 students per year to other districts, like Girard City Schools and Mathews Schools. Liberty brings in about 100 to 110 open enrollment students per year.

“Losing that many students is a concern for us. More than double are leaving … We disagree with a lot of the reasons families give for leaving,” Nohra said.

Nohra said he meets with parents interested in having their students attend Liberty, often explaining they may hear stories of student fighting and violence which are not true.