Monroe School District is once again without a school resource officer.
City Council decided to reinstate a school resource officer for the first two weeks of the school year, saying it would revisit the plan earlier this week.
However, with three council members — Mayor Bob Routson and council members Steve Black and Anna Hale — unavailable, the board could not come to a consensus if the school resource officer should be funded for the entire school year, until the end of the calendar year, or for just two weeks.
Vice Mayor Bob Kelley and Councilwoman Suzi Rubin are in support of keeping the school resource officer, but Council members Lora Stillman and Todd Hickman said they were not comfortable spending taxpayer dollars for a city police officer in the school buildings.
“I don’t feel that’s the right thing to do,” said Stillman about taking a beat officer off the street. However, Chief Greg Homer said if the officer is needed for an emergency out of the district, the officer “can be pulled from there at any given time.”
But he said it is important to have an officer in the school “because the relationship with the kids is important.”
Referring to an article in The Middletown Journal, Hickman said, “A lot of schools have done away with the officer. I don’t know if we can afford to put one out there.”
Kelley brought the issue to council’s attention after speaking with the high school’s principal who said he was concerned a school resource officer wouldn’t be in the school given the recent budget cuts.
The city had paid for a school resource officer until it fell into fiscal emergency eight years ago. At that time, Homer said he worked out an agreement where the school would pay for the officer while in the school district. Because of the district’s recent financial woes, the position was cut in January and the officer was out of the school by March.
Homer said the police department can fund a school resource officer for the remainder of the year, though it would eat into the department’s overtime budget.
“I can support the program for the remainder of this year,” Homer said. “But I can’t for next year because we don’t have a budget (approved).”
Funding the school resource officer full-time until the end of the calendar year would cost the city as much as $24,250.
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