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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018 5 months ago

Volusia County Council to fund increased portion of the school resource deputy program

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The County Council voted unanimously to provide an extra estimated $500,000 to the program.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

The Volusia County Council voted unanimously at its meeting on Tuesday, June 19, to help the School District with its School Marshal Program by bearing 30% of the salaries of all 17 deputies needed, as well as the supervisory, capital and other operational costs — a request that will cost the county an additional estimated total of $500,000. 

The District will pay for 70% of the salary costs of all 17 deputies that are part of the program. According to the School Board's request, this "approximates a revised 50/50" cost share for the school resource deputy program. The request also states that other costs that the county may find in assisting with the implementation of the School Marshal Program were not included in this budget adjustment. 

This follows the School Board's $2 million funding request back in April, as well as a handful of School Board meetings where members eventually decided on an implementation plan to abide by the state's mandate to put one armed school resource officer or guardian at every public school. The District decided on a program with 44 school guardians, including six substitutes, and 32 law enforcement officers at its meeting on Tuesday, June 12.

“I think it’s good that we have a concrete idea to move forward on," said County Council Chair Ed Kelley.

Volusia County School Superintendent Tom Russell said he had been working for about seven weeks with County Manager Jim Dinneen on the request. He said it'll likely round up to $509,000 for the county. The motion will be brought back to the council as a revised agreement.

County Councilwoman Heather Post, who represents District 4, said she didn't feel the state mandate was going to be a solution to the problem, and she felt as if they were "throwing money away doing this" but that the county needed to put funding into public safety and education. She said without those two sectors, you don't have a community.

"I don’t think this was the right decision by the state, but I can tell you the fact that it is a mandate by the state really puts us in a bad position and puts everybody in a bad position," Post said. "It’s absolutely the wrong decision by the Legislature, hands down, but I can’t see pulling away money from the school system."

All members of the School Board attended the meeting. After the motion passed, they thanked the council for their decision. District 4 School Board Member Carl Persis said he agreed with Post and asked them to "model" the partnership with the District for the program.

If municipalities choose to partner with them, Persis said, the School Board can amend their plan and put one school resource officer, instead of guardian, at every school. 

“Not that that is the ultimate answer, but I think it’s better," Persis said.

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