Archived Story

BCS faces increase in SRO costs

Published 5:07pm Friday, June 14, 2013

If Beaufort County Schools wants two police officers at two schools in the city for the next school year, it’s going to cost about twice as much as the school system has been paying.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council authorized the director of Washington Police and Fire Services to enter into an agreement with the Beaufort County Board of Education to provide two school resource officers during the next school year. One officer would be assigned to P.S. Jones Middle School; the other officer would work at Washington High School.

A city document puts the cost of the P.S. Jones Middle School officer at $64,000 for the upcoming school year. Another document puts the cost for the Washington High School officer at $67,000. The school system had been paying about half those amounts for officers in past school years.

During budget deliberations in recent years, council members directed city staff to develop SRO agreements that covered the actual costs of providing the officers. The new agreements accomplish that, according to Matt Rauschenbach, interim city manager and the city’s chief financial officer.

Rauschenbach told the council that BCS Superintendent Don Phipps has been made aware the costs for providing the two officers would significantly increase for the coming school year.

“I believe probably in the last six or eight years the compensation has been the same, roughly $76,000, which doesn’t come close to what our actual cost is. Staff recalculated the actual cost, and it’s more like $135,000,” Rauschenbach said.

Research indicates the 90 percent of cities providing school resource officers are charging full costs to do so, he said.

“The manager and I made him aware last year, too, that last year was going to be the last year in the old methodology. I’m not sure he knows what substantial means,” Mayor Archie Jennings said.

“I’m certainly glad that we offered that guidance last year and we now are going to begin to recover the actual cost of our activities because I’ve been of the opinion for several years that we were losing a substantial amount of money. I think the numbers presented here show that we have been,” said Councilman Doug Mercer.

The council also authorized the city attorney to make nonsubstantive changes to the agreement, if those changes are needed.

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