School Board Challenges Therapy Dog Proposal | News, Sports, Jobs

Members of the Warren County School District Board of Trustees have raised concerns about a proposal that would see the district purchase two therapy dogs.

The issue was brought to the Board of Directors at the start of the committee meetings and then discussed in more depth by the members later that evening.

The proposed deal is with New Hope Assistance Dogs.

Amy Bennett, the organization’s founder, said he was “surprising” spending time with students in schools.

“The majority of them flock to dogs, she said, emphasizing the difference their presence has made in light of recent tragedies.

She explained on the board what a therapy dog ​​would be trained to do, that they are trained to be calm, friendly and tolerant of all situations.

“They were also taught a lot about using their own departed to reach out to people in need,” she said, pointing out the “extreme socialization” and “exposure to many environments” that make up the training.

She called the dogs “practically as bombproof as you can get.”

The current proposal would see the two dogs primarily located at Beaty-Warren Middle School and Warren Area Elementary Center.

District student services director Dr Patricia Mead said the second dog handler had WAEC as her home school, but had duties at five or six schools where the dog could attend.

Each dog costs $5,000, but New Hope officials said one dog will be provided free of charge with funding the organization receives through the United Fund.

“I love the idea and the program” Board member Jeff Dougherty said in an ensuing committee meeting. However, he raised several practical issues to be resolved, such as liability and insurance, but also outstanding personnel issues, possible tax issues and negotiations.

“I really don’t think this is a good time to be discussing buying dogs,” he said, “with the current situation in which we find ourselves.”

Mead deferred to counsel on the issue of liability, but said other districts carry insurance on the dogs to cover liability. She also said organizations often team up to provide assistance such as free food.

“These are things we have considered,” she says, explaining that it’s not an add-on to the budget because it replaces a service that the district won’t contract out moving forward.

Mead added that the selected staff were chosen because of their traveling role, which means they operate in more than one district building and both work extended school year schedules into the summer. .

Council Chairman Paul Mangione asked how the district would handle each school wanting a dog and the district ending up with eight dogs.

“It depends on who you ask,” Mead said, noting that discussion of this possibility began in 2019.

Committee chair Joe Colosimo is asking that the item be brought forward to the March meeting for consideration to give the administration time to address some of the outstanding questions.

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