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January 16, 2013

Carroll schools may get officer

Initiative started months before Conn. school shooting.

FLORA — Carroll school board members are looking into getting a police officer for the school campus.

Representatives from the school board, school administration and the Flora Town Council are making plans to explore whether a “mutually beneficial agreement” can be drawn up to install an officer from the Flora Police Department on the grounds of the Carroll Consolidated School Corporation.

A date hasn’t yet been set for a meeting, but Carroll superintendent Chris Lagoni said the school board has been discussing the possibility of getting a school resource officer since March, long before a Newtown, Conn., school shooting in which 26 school staff and students were killed.

“Obviously recent events accelerates the discussion, but we had been talking about this before the state, or any of the recent bills had come about,” Lagoni said.

It wasn’t in response to any specific event at the Carroll schools, either, he added. But having a school resource officer would fall in line with the board’s goals for the next year.

“Safety and security of the campus is looking like it’s going to be the No. 1 priority,” said Lagoni.

School representatives will meet with town council president Josh Ayres and school legal counsel Miriam Robeson to determine what an agreement could look like. Robeson has already researched other small schools’ arrangements with local law enforcement that could serve as a model for one in Flora, Lagoni said.

Ayres said the main benefit to the town will be “just to know that our kids our safe.”

Since an agreement is still being formed, no specifics are yet available about the school resource officer. However, Lagoni envisions an officer filling a full-time position to assist with student and staff safety training, including bullying prevention and drug awareness, and to help smooth traffic flow during student arrival and departure, among other duties.

The town already sends a police officer to help with traffic on Ind. 18 during the school’s peak travel times.

“We’re not a big school, but you have to figure that we have 1,300 people arriving and leaving at the same time, on a state highway with no traffic stop, plus 18 to 20 buses, plus staff…. It can be a very hectic space,” said Lagoni.

The school corporation may pursue state funding for a school resource officer if a proposed Statehouse bill providing such funding is passed. But whether state funding becomes available or not, the school’s still interested, Lagoni said.

“My kids go to Carroll,” he added “I want the safest environment we can provide for our students.”

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

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