Coatesville Area school board July 9 said seven unarmed, uniformed security officers — employees of U.S. Security Care Inc. — will be on duty in schools to assist the district’s own two-person police department during the 2019-20 school year.
The school board approved hiring the Blue Bell firm on the advice of Frank Galbraith, Coatesville Area School District police chief. Galbraith said U.S. Security Care’s services in schools and at sporting events should in the 2019-20 school year cost the district approximately $260,000 — about $60,000 less than the district’s previous contract with Allied Protection.
Board members said they had received complaints former security staff did not intervene when needed to break up fights. When queried by board members, USSC officials said their officers would be trained to intervene, deescalate and break up physical alterations.
This past spring, state Rep. Dan Williams also secured for the district a $138,000 security grant which Galbraith said the district will use for security equipment such as gates to control campus access.
“We want to make sure everybody is safe,” said Galbraith. “This should be a really good year for us.”
In another cost-saving move, the board said it will work with Valbridge Property Advisors to have 16 commercial properties reassessed — a move which could bring the district an additional $500,000 to $750,000 in tax revenue. The list includes a local Wawa, a Walgreens and a CVS.
“This is a fairness issue,” said Charles Linderman, interim business manager, noting some commercial properties may be undervalued by as much as $1.5 million.
District officials also told Caln Township Commissioner Charles Kramer they would work with him to reinstate a tax abatement program for the township under the state’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act.
Kramer said the township has 50 empty storefronts — including a closed former Kmart property they would like to see developed.
“We have to expand the tax base, not the tax break,” said board member Henry Assetto, thanking Kramer for planning local business marketing efforts.
Board members also grilled representatives from ABM, the contractor they hired to provide services and facilities management. They said they had received complaints about cleaning and wanted to ensure buildings would be ready for classes in August.
“I’m sick and tired of it,” board member Rob Marshall said. “We can’t have parents and staff calling us. I’m begging you, please get this stuff cleaned up.”
Jack Morales, ABM’s Coatesville facilities director, assured board members school buildings will be ready for fall.
The board also heard resident concerns about the Google Chromebooks each student will use this fall through a $1.1 million Empower Ed grant from T-Mobile. Resident Rich Felice said he was concerned about student privacy issues and interactive testing.
“Do you know what is involved with all this technology?” Felice asked. “Do we really want this?”