City council OKs Scottsdale Schools $300K break on SRO officers

Through partnership, the Scottsdale Police Department provides school resource officer at Scottsdale Schools. (File photo)

Through an intergovernmental agreement, the Scottsdale Police Department provides school resource officers at Scottsdale Schools. (File photo)

Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved an amendment to an intergovernmental agreement between the Scottsdale Unified School District and the Scottsdale Police Department to continue to provide resource officers at the middle school level.

The approved amendment, Option A, allows Scottsdale Schools to maintain its current staffing levels for resource officers, while the school district’s payment is reduced by $300,000 for fiscal year 2015-16.

“This is definitely a cooperative agreement,” SUSD Public Information and Marketing Officer Kristine Harrington said in a June 18 phone interview. “This is a positive move forward and we’re very pleased with the city’s decision.”

The June 16 city council report outlines the payment plan over future fiscal years.

“For future fiscal years, the school district will pay the city funds equal to 80 percent of the combined school resource officer city budgeted salaries and benefits and 72 percent of the school resource officer sergeant budgeted salary and benefits,” the report states.

In previous years, the school district has been asked to provide the majority of the resource officers’ salaries and benefits.

The previous agreement, which expired in 2012, began with Scottsdale Schools funding 80 percent of the resource officers’ budgeted salaries and benefits, but that number shrunk to 55 percent throughout the duration of the agreement due to what city officials have coined, “financial constraints.”

The first year of the current agreement began with the school district paying 55 percent for the school resource officer and it also added a 49 percent funding of the school resource officer sergeant position — a position that has been completely funded by the city in the past, according to the report.

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board. (file Photo)

After the first year of the current contract, the school district’s funding of the resource officers’ and resource officer sergeant’s budgeted salaries and benefits grew to 80 and 72 percent, respectively.

The second option of the proposed amendment, Option B, proposed the same $300,000 decrease from the school district’s payment, but also included the reducing of the current resource officer staffing by three officers.

Ms. Harrington says the school district hoped Option B would not pass, as they did not want to see a cut in resource officers.

Scottsdale police has partnered with Scottsdale Schools since 1987 to provide school resource officers.

“The School Resource Officer Program is designed to provide law enforcement services and law enforcement related education to schools within the city,” the city report states.

Ms. Harrington says the school district is blessed to have resource officers in its schools.

“There are a number of scenarios that have to be reported to the police,” she said. “It’s nice that they are already there when those scenarios happen.”

Scottsdale Chief of Police Alan Rodbell presented the amendment in the June 16 meeting, according to the city’s closed caption transcript. He presented statistics that demonstrate the impact that resource officers have on students.

He stated the nine resource officers in the SUSD spent over 6,200 hours in the schools during the school year and impacted over 11,000 students. They spent time teaching in the classroom, but they also were available when problems occurred.

“They also take on the average of about 172 reports during the school year,” Chief Rodbell stated in the transcript. “Those reports run the gamut of reports involving all kinds of criminal activity, including drug use and unfortunately crimes that occur at home.”

Resource officer programs are common throughout the United States. The resource officers serve as positive role models and are able to help keep the school campuses safe and secure, according to the city report.

Chief Rodbell stated the presence of resource officers is important.

“I am very pleased with the city’s commitment to the safety of our schools. Additionally, in light of recent national events it is important to give our young people real life experience, from which they can form an opinion about who the police are in a democratic society,” Chief Rodbell said in a written response to e-mailed questions.

“The city’s commitment to the School Resource Officer program will insure the positive police experience continues. Most importantly, we are excited about continuing the successful partnership we have enjoyed with the Scottsdale Unified School District since the 1980s.”

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.