SAFE Schools to "double down" on fundraising efforts


Karin and Andy Montero, founders of the SAFE Schools Fund, are shown inside one of the 90 Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools buses equipped with a new camera system. The SAFE Schools Fund raised $60,000 of the camera systems’ $174,000 cost.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, March 12, 2018

The SAFE Schools fundraising effort spearheaded by local restaurateurs Andy and Karin Montero is revving up in response to the recent mass shootings at schools in Kentucky and Florida.

Since its inception about five years ago the SAFE Schools Fund has raised more than $260,000 to improve safety in the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.

Projects funded by SAFE Schools have included magnetically locking front doors at all schools, complete with intercom and camera systems; assistance with the county’s purchase and installation of security cameras on all buses, including activity buses and the installation of cameras at both middle schools and at H.L. Trigg Community School.

Andy Montereo said projects this year include security cameras at all elementary schools and additional cameras at the middle schools and community school.

Montero explained that the SAFE Schools Fund initiative raised money in recent years through spaghetti dinners and a womanless beauty pageant, and he indicated that initially the plan had been to shift fundraising efforts toward some other school projects instead of focusing so narrowly on school safety.

But already this year there has been so much “crazy stuff” that has happened at schools nationwide that the SAFE Schools Fund now plans to “double down” on raising money for safety equipment, he said.

Montero is planning to host a meeting soon with anyone who is interested in participating in the fundraising program to discuss some new fundraising ideas.

Local, state and federal governments all have a role to play in keeping the schools safe but this grassroots initiative also is important, he said.

He said he and his school safety fundraising partners recognize the need for community fundraising and want to help however they can. Any money raised through the grassroots project frees up money for the schools to do other things that are needed, he said.

“We intend to continue to do our part,” Montero said.

Although the primary focus now has returned to school safety, Montero said another plan is to create a “super supply store” — a bus filled with school supplies that will travel from school to school and offer teachers a way to save money on school supplies.

“We are trying to address teacher morale” with the school supplies program, he said.

As for the ongoing school safety effort, Montero said school officials will continue to set the priorities for the use of those funds.

Although the volunteers have their own ideas about what might best improve school safety, “we don’t push our own agenda or beliefs,” Montero said.

Last year, for instance, the principals said they wanted more security cameras so that’s what the group focused on. 

Montero said the SAFE Schools Fund defines school safety broadly and wants to protect schools from a person who comes from outside the school with an intent to do harm, but also to protect individual students from dangers, such as bullying.

“It’s a mix of both,” Montero said.