Added school safety measures put Rochester parents' minds at ease

Added school safety measures put Rochester parents' minds at ease

Teachers, administrators and students in Rochester are busy getting ready for the first day of school Thursday.

Someone else preparing for that morning bell is Rochester's newly hired school resource officer.

Officer Jon Schwartz will be filling the role.

"Officer Schwartz is really a great fit,” Rochester Schools Superintendent Dr. Lance Thurman said.

Thurman, who took over as Rochester’s superintendent in July, said he’s encouraged by Schwartz’s work history and his ability to build relationships.

Needed skills, Thurman said, should any unusual or unsafe situation arise.

“I think he would understand what's taking place, what actions that he would need to take place and also understanding who all of our students are and know what is the appropriate and best way to respond should something happen,” Thurman said.

Dawn Simpson is new to Rochester.

Her daughter Mary will be starting ninth grade at Rochester High Thursday.

"We're used to having a school resource officer in the school,” Dawn Simpson said. “My daughter had that in the middle school where she's from."

Mary said the resource officer at her old school helped keep students calm between classes.

"It can get a little rowdy in the hallways, but once you see an administrator, especially a police officer, you're going to calm down,” Mary said. “It was just safer walking down the hallways.”

Dawn Simpson said knowing Rochester has a resource officer as well is reassuring.

"You have in the back of your mind that something could happen and hope for the best, but it would be nice to know that there was an officer there,” Dawn Simpson said. “That would be an extra comfort to me personally and I think to other parents as well."

Bethany Potthoff, whose son starts the fourth grade Thursday, agreed.

"It feels like a pretty safe district to start with,” Potthoff said. “That's part of why we were looking to move here, but every little bit helps."

Thurman said Schwartz was hired by the village of Rochester and his salary will be paid by the school district.

Schwartz's office will be in Rochester’s Junior High and High School building.

Schwartz will also be conducting threat assessments for the district, looking at their strengths and weaknesses.

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