D.A.R.E barely stays afloat in Colonie

Earlier this year, when Gov. David Paterson cut funding for various programs across the state, the future of the D.A.R.E program in Colonie schools was in doubt.

The program will continue this year, according Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider, despite the lack of state funding, because the department believes it is a valuable tool in teaching students to remain drug free. This year, the nearly $400,000 to continue the D.A.R.E, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, program will be included in the town budget.

The state discontinued the D.A.R.E program this year, which jeopardizes the D.A.R.E program [in the future], Heider said at the Colonie Town Board meeting Thursday, Oct. 16.

Because of the lack of compensation from the state for the program, the police department had to evaluate whether it was worth keeping in the North Colonie and South Colonie school districts, and officers decided it was a valuable program.

According to Heider, D.A.R.E., which brings police officers into elementary school classrooms so that they can teach students to avoid drugs is just one of many programs the Colonie Police Department maintains to ensure students are drug-free and safe.

Heider said another vital program puts police officers in the schools. The district is able to decide whether or not they would use the service, and the officer is compensated a salary of $40,000 per year, paid for by the district.

Administrators in the North Colonie Central School District say they have decided, for the past several years, not to take part in the program because they have teachers who act as hall monitors, and they feel that the Colonie police are quick and responsive when an incident does occur.

"We have a wonderful relationship with the police," said Superintendent of Schools Randy Ehrenberg.

The South Colonie Central School District does have police officers in the school.

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