Friday, February 17, 2017

Updated: City To Provide More Security For Schools?

Fairhope, Alabama

Update: At its last meeting, the city council voted to provide one full-time SRO and funding for a replacement on the regular police force.

EAC meeting at J. Larry Newton School


During a discussion at the last Education Advisory Committee meeting about how to distribute the city's usual $345K yearly contribution to area schools, principals of the five area schools proposed the city provide funding for full- time school resource officers (SRO's) to address "heath and safety concerns" -- as well as the usual substance abuse issues.

They preferred two officers costing $140K/yr to service all schools; but just one would be a "good" option as well -- to be shared between the High and Middle schools only.

Fairhope High School principal Cardwell said the city currently provides one part-time SRO, "doing it all" -- investigations, mental health calls, juvenile crime, etc. -- but that is no longer enough given the rapidly-growing student population.

Cardwell: "In a week's span ... we had a shotgun with ammo in the back seat ... a knife ... was in a lock down ... .  A shooting at the high school would be huge for Fairhope ... needed SRO's yesterday."

When something happens, police officers are currently phoned directly, not the dispatch switchboard, so records will not reflect the actual number of incidents, according to the principals.

EAC February meeting


Charter committee member Bob Riggs agreed it's important, but questioned the city funding them: "It is a need ... the county needs to fund that ... this (EAC funds) not where it should come from."

He added the city's $350K donation was intended for academic improvement only.

Riggs suggested extra funding for the officers might be provided from the city's police department budget instead: "We ought to recommend it be funded but from elsewhere ... maybe under the police." Member Robert Brown, the city council's committee liaison, agreed cost-sharing with the police department may be a solution.

Although the need is compelling. Riggs concluded its "not what we as a committee should be doing" -- but others present argued enhancing the security environment should improve academic performance as well.

He added if the Fairhope officers are re-assigned to the schools, they will have to be replaced on the regular police force ... effectively doubling the cost to the city.

Principal Cardwell at right


After a lengthy debate, it was generally agreed to present three options to the city council for distributing this year's $345K:

Plan A: One SRO reducing this year's academic appropriation by $70K

Plan B: Two SRO's reducing the appropriation by $140K

Plan C: Funding for the SRO's to come from somewhere else and the whole $345k used for academics as in years past.

The money in question ($140K) had primarily been earmarked through an earlier collaboration of the principals for: a math coach ($62K); four part time instructors for struggling readers ($45K); and professional development for science teachers ($28K).

The committee deferred formally voting on the final presentation to the council until a later date; but one member already objected to a part of it: the $28K to send science teachers from one of the schools to a conference in California.

Bob Riggs: "I vote no ... bring the training here instead to save (money) ... ."


Subsequent to this EAC meeting in early February, councilman Burrell said he, the mayor, School Board Rep. Christenberry, Police Chief Petties, and some EAC members  have been working to find other funding sources for the SRO's: using some municipal court fines/fees among those being discussed.

So far, no formal presentation has been made to the city council by the EAC.


Anonymous said...

Financing schools in Baldwin County is the responsibility of the County--Not the City of Fairhope. The funds contributed to the Fairhope schools by the City of Fairhope is not a mandatory donation, and specifically are for academic matters.

If the schools need security officers, then the county board of education needs to provide the funding.

Anonymous said...

That's a joke!!!
The school system don't even provide workers comp for there employees so do you really think they care if anyone is protected. The only people that really care are the staff of the schools. Top 10 will never happen until you start paying the teachers and protecting the staff. The money given from Fairhope should pay for workers compensation.

Anonymous said...

Student resource officers are not a good use of resources for our schools. Most studies show them as part of the "School-to-Prison" pipeline. As an alternative hire 2 to 3 more school counselors and spend more on training and supporting teachers in class room management. Both academic and discipline outcomes will improve.

Anonymous said...

So all of the bad things happening there are not being reported or recorded properly?

Anonymous said...

I for one do not trust this sneaky school board with any more of my money.

They are playing the ol' shell game on us suckers!

Anonymous said...

I'm ok with this. It should come out of the $350000 though.

Anonymous said...

School to prison pipeline you say?
Nice imagery!!

Anonymous said...

sros are counselors ..... in a way