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Orange County schools to get $1.2M to tighten security

Orange County executive Edward Diana announced a $1.2

Orange County executive Edward Diana announced a $1.2 million initiative Thursday to fund local school districts supplemental safety procedures in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. (Jan. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Office of the Orange County Executive

In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, Orange County will fund local school districts to the tune of $1.2 million to supplement their safety procedures, County Executive Edward A. Diana announced Thursday.

The money -- about $60,000 for each of the 18 districts -- will be paid out over three years, pending approval by the county Legislature, Diana said.

"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," Diana said in a news release Thursday. "This initiative ... 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 board of school, mental health and law enforcement professionals to review written plans submitted by school districts in exchange for funding grants.

The board members are Terrence L. Olivo, Orange Ulster Boards of Cooperative Educational Services 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 on the World Trade Center bombings; John Melville, Orange County district attorney's chief investigator and former superintendent of the State Police; 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 chairman of the board will be Deputy County Executive James D. O'Donnell, a former colonel with the State Police and Troop F commander as well as chief of police for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department.

"The greatest concern parents have is that when a child goes on a bus in the morning to school that he or she come back home safely," Orange County District Attorney Francis D. Phillips said. "A multifaceted approach is important ... one size does not fit all."

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