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Having served on the Safety Task Force these past months,  as a parent, I am

certainly reassured that Westerville schools are safe schools.   Meeting with

so many people -  administrators, principals, teachers, school resource

officers (SROs), community partners, intervention & counseling specialists and

student leaders, all committed to keeping our schools safe.  It was apparent to me

and everyone else on the Task Force - our Safety Program has taken years to

develop and fine-tuning is an on-going process.  Working together is key!  We

discussed many great programs being offered, on elementary, middle and high

school levels, extending out into the community offering support, guidance and

help. On that note, many of these programs are partially funded through grant

monies, some of which will run out soon.  I have heard staggering dollar amounts;

 a middle school program grant of $86,000 which is over next year. Another,

alternative program grant of $90,000, also expiring in another year.  These

grant monies, of course, do not last forever.  Our intervention team, just this

past month, winning National acclaim; 1 of 10 awards given in the country, for

one of their innovative Saturday programs.  Applying and writing for grants is

something that they do in their spare time!  


The point I see here is, there is no arguing, that safety issues take more

than time but also money.   There is no getting around the fact that

Westerville's growth is fast and furious.  Safety issues also will continue to come with

that growth.   Financially, we need to accept that fact.  As a community, we

may never fully agree on how to spend every dollar, but part of the reason for

our continued growth, is that we can take pride in our safe schools. When it

comes to issues of safety, there is no going back, no room for cutting costs or

any risk taking.  It has taken time to build relationships between our

schools and local police departments,  creating trust between our students and

school resource officers.   The system works because they work together for the

common goal of safety!  What has taken years to build cannot be cut or decreased

whether new grants are awarded or new levies are passed.  I can give you over

14,000 very special reasons why. We are now the 9th largest school district in

Ohio!  That is fact!  I know I will be voting in November to pass the

upcoming levy to support our growing community;  the safety issue is just one

important reason why. 


Safe schools are not just the responsibility of Mr. Hershiser, the school

board or our police department but our entire community.  Finally, working

together, that's the key! 


Thank you,  Cheree Richards

Westerville Voters On Target for Education