City, schools modify SRO agreement

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beaufort County Schools will pay more this upcoming school year to have police officers at two schools in Washington, but not as much as first proposed.

Beaufort County Schools will pay 5 percent more this school year than it did for the 2012-2013 school year to have two officers, one at Washington High School and the other at P.S. Jones Middle School. The City of Washington had considered almost doubling the costs of the two officers for the upcoming school year, but the city and school system worked out an agreement that increases what the school system pays for the officers over a three-year period.

At first, the city was going to charge the school system $64,000 to place an officer at the middle school this upcoming school year, with a $67,000 charge to put an officer at the high school during the upcoming school year.

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 initial new agreements accomplished that, according to Matt Rauschenbach, interim city manager and the city’s chief financial officer, but the latest proposal makes it easier for the school system to adjust to the upcoming increase in costs for the two officers.

During the 2013-2014 school year, the school system will pay $39,729.92 for the officer at the high school and the same amount for the officer at the middle school.

“Full actual cost for the two officers when school is in session is $100,089 for2013/2014. It was agreed to adjust the agreement up to its full actual cost by fiscal year 2015/2016. The understanding is that, in addition to other annual increases, it will be adjusted up $15,315 for 2014/2015 and approximately $15,315 in 2015/2016. The actual costs will be recalculated for the 2015/2016 agreement and may vary from these estimates,” reads a letter to BCS Superintendent Don Phipps from Rauschenbach.

“I am relieved that we could come to together and reach a resolution for 2013-2014 school year regarding school resource officers from the Washington Police Department. As an organization, we completely understand the strains which can come about regarding funding arrangements,” said BCS Superintendent Don Phipps. “With this agreement reached, we can work carefully to plan for the following school year, finding the best plan for all involved.”

The new agreement gives the school system more time to prepare for the significant increase in SRO costs, Rauschenbach said, noting the school system had only budgeted for a 5-percent increase in those costs for the upcoming 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 earlier this year when the original proposal to double what the school system had been paying was discussed at a City Council meeting.

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

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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