The bigger picture on school resource officers
My daughter and I recently appeared in a News Journal story about the Milford School District adding School Resource Officers (SRO) to the elementary schools. While I appreciate the News Journal telling a portion of my story, the information omitted from the story is really the bigger picture. While it does concern me that there will be a negative impact on children with disabilities, the reason you, the average taxpayer should care, was left out.
The cost of these officers is $300,000 per year to the District – to start. This is precedent setting as the Milford Police Department pays for the officer that is currently stationed at the high school. Additionally, the district did not hire back all of the teaching and support staff this year, will not be able to do so next year and they are paying for officers who will essentially take the place of highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals.
They are also proposing programming cuts, losing Race to the Top funds and then will be going to referendum for more of your money for their operating expenditures. Since the Milford School District attempts to hide behind the Governor’s initiative directing Delaware’s Office of Safety and Homeland Security to work with all school districts in the state to implement the Comprehensive School Safety Plan, I recently met with Lt. Governor Denn and R.L. Hughes from the Delaware Homeland office. Neither of them supported the decision made by the district.
In addition, I received a letter from Delaware’s Office of Safety and Homeland Security stating “Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security did not mandate nor sign-off on Milford School District’s decision to hire additional SROs. The decision to hire additional SROs was made locally at the district level in Milford.” I have asked repeatedly for the data to prove the need for these officers. I have not received any data to date. In fact, all of the data I have obtained and provided clearly shows that SROs do not make schools safer.
The liability of this decision will fall directly on the district and more specifically the board. I have requested financial numbers on the increase to the liability insurance for each elementary school that will have an armed, uniformed officer stationed there and I have not been provided this information either. There are many different ways to provide more safety in our schools but this isn’t it. The district should be held accountable for this and the voters should not approve the referendum for operating expenditures in the spring.