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Local News

Yorkville D-115 officials hire first safe school security officer

From left to right: Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education president Lynn Burks, vice-president Robert Brenart, secretary Ashley Rhea Shields, along with members Gary Katula and Tom Kozlowicz, listen during the school board meeting Monday, Nov. 25 at the Yorkville High School library.
From left to right: Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education president Lynn Burks, vice-president Robert Brenart, secretary Ashley Rhea Shields, along with members Gary Katula and Tom Kozlowicz, listen during the school board meeting Monday, Nov. 25 at the Yorkville High School library.

YORKVILLE – An armed security staff member to help monitor school grounds within Yorkville School District 115 has been hired.

Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education members voted, 5-0, to approve hiring Joseph Grimaldi as a safe schools security officer during the school board meeting on Monday, Nov. 25, at the Yorkville High School library. School board members Shawn Schumacher and Jason Senffner were absent from the meeting.

School board members also approved $34.50 per hour pay for Grimaldi.

Tim Shimp, superintendent for the school district, said Grimaldi has more than 20 years in law enforcement, with the majority of his career being with Winfield Police Department and many certifications on top of that.

“He certainly will be a great addition to begin this process,” Shimp said.

Shimp said it also sounds like there’s a potential for the district to get some further support through additional grant funding for positions like this.

“So hopefully we’ll get to offset local dollars in the future as the state provides those,” Shimp said.

The update comes after school district officials discussed the possibility of adding more armed security personnel to help monitor school grounds within the district in August. The board approved the creation of two supervisory positions for the program to start and began interviewing candidates shortly thereafter.

School board members also discussed the terms of Grimaldi’s contract during their Nov. 11 committees meeting.

Shimp had said during the Nov. 11 meeting that the contract specifically outlines that safe schools security officers are not police officers.

“They’re not going to be able to arrest or handcuff kids,” Shimp had said.

Shimp had said part of the outlined contractual expectations for the officer include training in firearms, crisis prevention and de-escalation techniques. He also had said the district reimbursing officers for the cost of a firearm was originally part of the contract, but the district took that out after further consideration.

Troy Courtney, director of human resources for the school district, had said during the Nov. 11 meeting the firearm would go with the officer if the officer left the district per the contract since the school district can’t store it.

“We wouldn’t know what to do with it,” Courtney had said.

School board member Robert Brenart had said during the Nov. 11 meeting that he would like to see physical qualifications be more explicitly outlined as well for those hired for the position, maybe with similar standards as most police departments. Looking at emergency situations that have happened in schools, he had said, he believed the security officer would need to be able to get to the other end of the school, and that’s the main reason why he would want to see those standards being relatively high.

“For their own safety as well,” Brenart had said.

Brenart said during the Monday meeting the conversation comes as other area districts may be considering ways to have their teachers be armed for added school security.

“I think that this is a much better direction to take where you have somebody that’s a professional,” Brenart said.

Shimp had said during the Nov. 11 meeting the goal was to have the position filled by this month and have the employee start by early December. He said during the Monday meeting the thought is to have staff look at getting a second individual approved for a similar title by the school board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 27, 2020.

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