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March 21, 2013

Carroll schools to hire officer

Town expected to vote on agreement in April

FLORA — Carroll students could start greeting a police officer at the school doors as early as this spring.

Carroll school board members approved an agreement Tuesday with the Town of Flora to assign one town police officer as a school resource officer, stationed on school premises full-time during the school year. The agreement, set to go before the town council at its April 1 meeting, stipulates that the school will reimburse the town for its expense.

“It’s a win-win scenario,” said town council president Josh Ayres. “They get the use of a police officer and we don’t have the cost of an additional officer.”

He anticipated that the agreement would likely pass the town council vote in April.

The cost to the school is yet to be determined, according to school board president Dave Lambert, since the town has to ratify the agreement and begin the hiring process before saying for certain how much it will pay the officer.

However, he added, the school board was provided an estimate of $15 to $20 per hour for the 186 1/2 days contracted for the officer.

Carroll schools will also buy and maintain the patrol vehicle the officer will use. However, it’ll officially be owned by the town, and Flora will carry insurance for it, according to school legal counsel Miriam Robeson.

“That way, there would be no question about it being a ‘real’ police car,  in the event that it needs to leave campus, participate in pursuit or for other police duties,” Robeson explained.

School officials are looking at buying a patrol car for $3,000 to $10,000, Lambert said.

The hiring process should begin after the town approves the agreement, Lambert said. He figured it would be at least May 1 before an officer is hired, but the school is open to stationing the officer on site for the last month of school, if the schedule permits.

“If we need to, we could start them the last 30 days and get everybody used to the situation,” Lambert said.

Otherwise, the officer would start along with the beginning of the school year in August.

The most recent draft of the agreement, provided by Robeson, stipulates that the officer won’t be involved in ordinary school discipline in most cases, but will be available for safety- and law enforcement-related guidance and stand by during arrival and dismissal or other “potentially problematic periods during the school day.”

Lambert and Ayers, both parents of multiple children in the Carroll schools, said they were looking forward to having the added protection for the children.

“Me having two young kids in the school, I’m pretty happy about it,” Ayres said.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

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