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Columbus (Ohio) district adds officers to bolster security

The district is spending $1.7 million in 2019-20 to increase its security staff to 84, up from 53.

The Columbus (Ohio) District will spend $1.7 million in the coming school year to increase the district’s safety and security staff by more than half, from 53 to 84 officers.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that 13 of the new officers will be assigned to high schools, five to middle schools, 10 to elementary schools and three to administrative buildings. It will be the first time that elementary schools and administrative buildings have dedicated officers.

The additional staff is designed to reduce emergency response times and also ensure that more children are interacting with a friendly, trusting adult, says Chris Ward, the district's safety and security director . Ultimately, he hopes their presence will help boost student attendance and achievement.

“Security is much more than just providing a physical presence,” Ward says. “It takes people, technology, the community — it takes everybody to ensure the safety of our students and community as a whole.”

Security officers at Columbus City Schools aren’t armed. In addition to the security officers, the district has 19 armed resource officers at its high schools, in partnership with Columbus police, which covers 55% of their pay. The district will pay $1.3 million for the resource officers and three additional truancy officers this coming school year.

In 2018-19, Columbus had one security officer for every 943 students. In the coming school year, that ratio will be lowered to one for every 595.

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