Township, district eye school resource officer, safety issues

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-On May 21, the township board of trustees opened discussion regarding a school resource officer assigned to Goodrich Schools.
The cost would be $102,647 per year for the service provided by the Genesee Sheriff Department.
“Our deputies spend a lot of time right now taking calls at the schools, traffic calls, drug calls,” said Tere Onica, township supervisor. “Every time they take a call at the school they are not here they are not on the road. So that would also be a benefit for us to have a deputy assigned to the schools.”
Onica suggested the township put a school resource officer into the contract with the Genesee County Sheriff Department and negotiate for the next two years at least.
“I did tell Ryan Relkan (Goodrich Superintendent) they are going to pay the lion share,” she said. “They can pay 100 percent of the cost. There are also some grants out there.”
Lt/Sgt. George Lieber, of the Genesee County Sheriff Department, township substation attended the Monday meeting.
“The school is a lot of work,” said Lieber.

“There are a lot of calls—just about every school day in one capacity or another. That I can attest to.”
Onica said there are some communities that pay 10 or 20 percent to help defray the costs to the school.
“The only reason we would (consider financial support) would be to show our of support,” she said. “It’s very important in the community given the (recent) school shooting. Second, it would give us better coverage in the township when they (deputies) are on vacation. That extra (deputy) can cover for others.”
“I’m hoping a safety grant would be doable for them,” she said. “Our budget can’t take a hits of $100,000.”
Other districts share in the costs.
In March 2016 the Brandon Township Board of Trustees agreed to split the cost of the police liaison officer for the 2017-18 school year.
Terms of agreement between the Brandon Schools and the township include $21,243.77 for Sept. 5, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017 and $30,937.74 for Jan. 1, 2018 to June 15, 2018 for a total contractual cost of $52,181.51 plus overtime which exceeds 20 hours. The cost for the school liaison officer is $131,509, of which the school district had reimbursed the township $94,693, for the time the officer is in the Brandon schools during the school year.
Goodrich Superintendent Ryan Relkan is optimistic a resource officer is in the future for district.
“We had of very good meeting with the township,” said Relkan. “There is a lot of potential for a resource officer in the district. Given the safety issues in schools nationwide a school resource officer will be major priority now. But cost is a factor. Right now we are watching Lansing there are pieces of legislation that may provide funding school safety. I’m confident the community can move forward on school safety.”
In April the Michigan state Senate voted unanimously to provide more than $18.6 million to schools to upgrade security systems in their buildings and classrooms.