School board, township grapple with school resource officer

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-On Monday night the Goodrich School Board of Trustees conducted a special meeting regarding a school resource officer. School board members, teachers, administrators along with several parents with children in the district attended the meeting.
Trustee Chip Shultz a veteran Oakland County Sheriff Deputy lead the meeting.
“There has been a lot of discussion in the last six months here in Goodrich about putting a school resource officer into the district,” said Schultz, who had served as a SRO in the Milford School District for two years. “I loved the job. That was my true passion.”
Schultz supports an SRO in the school, but there’s a cost that comes with that position, he added .
“It’s a huge cost,” he said. “We just don’t have a line item to pay for a school resource officer. That money would come out of our fund balance.”
Schultz said the cost to the district for the SRO from the township would be $72,305 for the 2019-20 school year. The township would contribute $24,175 for the days when the deputy was not needed in the district.
“The township is looking for us to pay 75 percent of the fee,” he said. “They would want the other 25 percent since they want an officer in the summer. There are 261 working days for the deputy—we would have a deputy here for 180 school days and the township have them.”

All other costs, such as health benefits, retirement and vacations are also shared.
Earlier this year the township board of trustees opened discussion regarding a school resource officer assigned to Goodrich Schools. The cost would be $96,480 per year for the service provided by the Genesee Sheriff Department.
In December the township board of trustees OK’d a new contract with the Genesee County Sheriff Department. The new $599,780 two-year contract is about a 2 percent increase over the previous amount of $586,777. The contract is effective Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2020 with the sheriff department and includes four deputies along with funding for a detective-sergeant, split between Fenton and the township.
The new contract, which jumped about $13,000, is funded by a 2.1 millage OK’d in May 2017, by township voters for police protection and 1 mill for the fire department. The five-year millage will generate an estimated $620,000 for the police services and $294,000 for the fire department
A township taxpayer with a $100,000 home pays about $105 per year for police protection.
“We offered to work with them to make that happen,” said Tere Onica, township supervisor. “The township deputies get pulled off their regular duty and continue to get calls to the school on a variety issues. That’s the deputies job to respond to the 9-1-1 calls. But when the deputies are at the school they can’t go out and patrol the township neighborhoods. We are willing to partner with the schools to serve both needs.”
Onica said only four school district in Genesee County currently don’t not have a SRO.
“Goodrich is the largest of those districts,” she said.
Onica said many of the cities and townships that partner with the schools share 10 and 25 percent of the costs of an SRO.
The cost of a school resource officer in the Brandon School District is $131,509. In March 2016 the Brandon Township Board of Trustees agreed to split the cost 50/50 with the Brandon School District of the police liaison officer for the school year.