Polk to hire school resource officers

Published 5:46 pm Monday, January 13, 2014

After prioritizing school security needs, Polk County Commissioners agreed to implement the top priority of hiring two school resource officers immediately.

County commissioners met Jan. 6 and unanimously approved implementing school resources officers; one to work at Polk County Middle School and another floating officer for the county’s four elementary schools.

Polk County High School already has a security guard on staff.

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The county appointed a school security task force following the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at a Sandy Hook, Conn. elementary school and received recommendations from the task force in November 2013. Commissioners were presented costs for the recommendation at their December meeting.

Polk County Interim County Manager Marche Pittman told commissioners he and superintendent Bill Miller evaluated the priorities with school resource officers topping the list, followed by school panic alarms, video cameras, central monitoring and common key systems.

The panic alarms are estimated at $14,000, with the school system already applying for a grant.

Miller said the school system has not yet been notified regarding the panic alarm grant but he feels positive the grant will be awarded.

The school system has already received a $28,000 grant for school resource officers with the total cost for two officers being $85,109 each year.

“I believe we need to make a commitment to go ahead and fund school resource officers out of our fund balance,” said commissioner Tom Pack.

The rest of the board agreed and approved the funding unanimously. The total cost for two officers for one fiscal year, would cost the county $57,109 including the $28,000 in grant funding.

Miller said he is not sure if the grant will be available every year, but he is hopeful.

The cost for the remainder of this fiscal year with the grant would be $14,555 to hire two school resource officers for the second half of the fiscal year.

Video cameras for all schools are estimated at $143,100 with the school system agreeing to pay $100,000 and the remaining cost for the county being $43,100.

“We think this will improve security in our schools and we feel if commissioners are going to pay for some, the schools should put some in our budget,” Miller said.

Central monitoring of the schools is planned to be done through the Polk County Communications Department, and is estimated at $10,000, with the county planning to pay those costs once implemented.

The common key system at schools is estimated at $60,000, with the school system planning to pay those costs.

Total costs for the top five priority items is $312,209 with $42,000 coming from grant funding, $160,000 coming from the school system and $110,209 from the county.

Of the total costs for the county, $57,109 would be annual costs for the school resource officers and $53,100 would be one-time capital expenses. Both the school board and county commissioners plan to discuss how to fund other items during budget discussions for fiscal year 2014-2015.