Posted on

Funding OK’d for more school resource officers

School resource officers will walk the halls of every public school campus in the county, at least for one semester, beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The Harrison County Council made the decision Monday night to fund the additional security at North Harrison, Lanesville and South Harrison schools.
The council voted unanimously to fund $140,000 to bring in four additional resource officers for the 2018 fall semester. The majority of the money is expected to be refunded by the three school corporations.
‘The county has to pay 100 percent of this upfront,’ council president Gary Davis said. ‘Then, we get reimbursed by the school corporations, and the proposal is they would refund us for 70 percent.’
That means the three school corporations will be on the hook for a combined $98,000 of the costs.
School leaders said Monday night they’re looking at ways for the three corporations to get billed together on the total costs of the additional personnel. This would allow the county to submit expenses together and eliminate how the expenses would break down per school corporation.
Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye had asked for $235,000 from the council last month, when discussions about additional school resource officers began, but councilman Donnie Hussung said the real total costs to bring on four additional people would likely be roughly $320,000.
Davis said some calculations on the $320,000 total were wrong, with a wrong hourly wage and the county’s pension contribution being used in the math. However, the total still worked out to roughly the same amount.
The new positions could come in at a lower cost if insurance or retirement benefits aren’t needed for that employee.
The sheriff’s department will make the hires by July, so each new SRO can be properly trained before the new school year begins. Seelye plans to put current deputies into SRO positions and make the new hires work the road.
‘We have a vacancy right now,’ Seelye said. ‘And we’re looking at hiring four more. So, that’s five, which is a big deal. So, we’ll need to recruit heavily, in a big way.’
This school year, the North Harrison Community School Corp. has one SRO, which is provided through the Indiana State Police Alliance. Due to changes in the state police overtime policy, the partnership can’t continue after the spring semester. South Harrison Community School Corp. has three SROs, with a county deputy placed on the Elizabeth campus and one splitting time behind New Middletown and Heth-Washington elementary schools. The third is a Corydon police officer, who works the three buildings on the Corydon campus.
South Harrison is requesting one more SRO, which would place a second officer on the Corydon campus. School officials were scheduled to publicly begin discussing funding that position Monday night at the Corydon Town Council meeting.
The Lanesville Community School Corp. has not had a school resource officer.
While councilmen Gary Byrne and Kyle Nix each supported the measure, both said they did not support how the council came to the decision.
Nix said he wanted to further consider how the county would fund the four additional people in the upcoming years.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to give $50,000 to the Town of Laconia to fund its shelter-house project.
The council passed the measure 6-1. Byrne voted against, saying the county has overspent riverboat funding for the year.
Laconia councilman Scott Byrum said the town has already spent money to purchase land to construct the 50-by-60-foot structure and will spend between another $10,000 and $20,000 to see the project completed.
The total is expected to cost a little under $98,000.
Byrum said Laconia officials are already in talks with the Harrison County Community Foundation for the remainder of the work.
The council’s funding will allow Laconia officials to at least begin the work.