Woodbridge parents can breathe a little easier as far as their children's safety is concerned. The Board of Education approved a motion to add three off-duty police officers to patrol the district's 24 schools during the school day.
The three officers will join three others who currently are on watch at Woodbridge schools. There are 16 elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools in the district.
The idea to add more officers came from the district's new superintendent, Dr. Robert Zega. The motion was passed at the January 30 meeting, at the same assembly when Dr. Zega's appointment to school superintendent was approved.
"We've been taking a look at our whole security system," Zega said. He said the board's Security and Safety Committee had been assessing the district's security abilities even before the tragic Connecticut Sandy Hook school shootings in December claimed the lives of several teachers and 20 first grade youngsters.
"We've been looking at different ways to upgrade what we've been doing," the superintendent said. Adding three officers to patrol township schools during the school day was "the most cost-effective" and flexible way to provide extra protection, he added.
"If you hire someone full time for each building, you're talking about a lot of money."
Each of the officers will be paid $39 an hour, which will be paid by the board. The township is providing the cars and gasoline for the officers to patrol the schools, Zega said.
The extra manpower began monitoring the schools on February 1. The motion passed by the board extends that police power through June 26, or about the end of the 2013 school year.
"It's a hard job to make [the district] secure," Zega said. "This is another way to do more with less."