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Talks continue regarding additional SROs

More information has come out regarding the three school districts in the county placing resource officers in the schools. County leaders are considering funding four of the five positions, with a request likely going to the Corydon Town Council this spring for the final SRO.
At last week’s commissioners’ meeting, Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye requested $235,000 to hire four additional people. The increase would help place two SROs in the North Harrison Community School Corp. (the corporation is losing its contract with the Indiana State Police Alliance due to the way the Alliance pays overtime), two at South Harrison schools and one at Lanesville, which hasn’t had a school resource officer.
The money requested would actually be an annual cost to cover the four positions, and does not include all the benefits, such as cost of insurance and retirement benefits.
At Monday night’s Harrison County Council meeting, Councilman Donnie Hussung said current figures put the total cost at an estimated $320,000.
Council president Gary Davis said he believed exact figures would be available at the council’s next meeting, set for Monday, April 9, at 7 p.m. at the Harrison County Government Center.
Currently, the county covers 30 percent of the cost of a school resource officer from the sheriff’s department. There’s only two, with each working schools in the South Harrison Community School Corp.
Carolyn Wallace, director of business operation for the SHCSC, told the council Monday that a SRO works 181 days a year at a school, which is roughly 70 percent of the work days in a year.
While South Harrison has maxed out its state grant, both Lanesville and North Harrison will apply for similar grants. However, securing the funds is not a guarantee.
‘It was very tight, very competitive,’ Wallace said to the council about the grants this past year, adding that more school corporations statewide are applying for funds.
With dozens of threats directed at Indiana schools this year and school safety a highly-discussed topic, Wallace suspected even more districts will ask for funds through the program for the 2018-19 school year.
She added something could change with how the state protects schools.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has called a special session in May to finish a bill lawmakers ran out of time to vote on before the legislature ended earlier this month.
Under the grant program’s current structure, school districts the size of North Harrison and South Harrison could get as much as $50,000, and Lanesville and schools its size could be awarded as much as $35,000.
The grants need a match from another agency.
‘The state doesn’t care where the match comes from,’ Wallace said.
Seelye has said he would consider hiring seasonal employees who would only work during the school year, to help reduce the county’s costs. He added it could be difficult to find someone to work part of the year.
Those people would cover shifts so full-time employees could work in the schools.
‘I’m not going to make those people resource officers,’ the sheriff said to the council. ‘They’ll be covering the road for the full-time resource officers. So, when school is out, they would go away.’
If the money is there, the sheriff said, and the additional people have not been hired, he would still place his staff in the school, starting this fall, to keep the schools safer then continue to work to fill the positions.
Wallace said her school corporation also has met with Corydon councilmembers about funding the final SRO, which would place two Corydon police SROs at the Corydon campus.
Talks have already begun with police chief Matt Kitterman, but it’s unclear how soon a request could be heard by the Corydon Town Council.