Steamboat Springs Police Officer Josh Carrell, right, talks with high school students in the commons area last year. Carrell is the high school's resource officer. The city and school district are discussing the possibilty of sharing the costs of the position, which usually has been paid for in full by the city.

File photo

Steamboat Springs Police Officer Josh Carrell, right, talks with high school students in the commons area last year. Carrell is the high school's resource officer. The city and school district are discussing the possibilty of sharing the costs of the position, which usually has been paid for in full by the city.

Resource officer position in question

School district and city discussing funding options

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Funding for the Steamboat Springs High School resource officer is the latest potential budget victim for the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs School District.

City officials have asked the school district to fund half of the position, which has been paid for in full by the city since the job was created about 12 years ago. Police Officer Josh Carrell is the high school's current resource officer.

Carrell's salary is about $84,000, including benefits. Several weeks ago, city representatives asked the district if it would be willing to pay $21,000 for the position for the remainder of the current school year, and $42,000 in upcoming school years.

"It's not really a matter of trying to eliminate the position," Assistant City Finance Director Bob Litzau said. "It's a matter of trying to keep the position and balance the city's budget."

School Board members discussed the plan at a Nov. 3 meeting, but tabled any decisions. During the meeting, board member John DeVincentis expressed concern with providing better benefits to a resource officer than what are offered to regular district employees. The resource officer receives a standard city benefits package and a police officer's pension plan.

Other board members, concerned about the Referendum 2A half-cent sales tax vote scheduled for the following evening, wanted to wait until the city and district's budgets were more definite before taking action.

Because of the tight budget, School Board Vice President Denise Connelly said no program was immune from being cut, including the school resource officer position, a position she said she supports.

"I think that we don't really know exactly what's going to be on the table. We're going to be looking at everything in terms of benefit to students," Connelly said.

So far, there have been no discussions about cutting the officer's hours at the school or cutting the program. High school Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky said the officer has played an important role in the high school, and he hopes to see it maintained as a full-time role.

"As far as daily routine, he's a tremendous asset for the safety of students, both psychologically, as well as physically," Lamansky said. "They know there is someone to go to from a law enforcement perspective that they can report everything."

Capt. Joel Rae, who has been in discussions with Superintendent Shalee Cunningham, said it is not uncommon for districts to pay part of the resource officer's salary.

"It's very commonplace across the state and across the country that school districts contribute at least a portion of the school resource officer salary," Rae said.

An informal survey of school administrators conducted by www.principalspage.com showed a variety of funding methods, with districts paying nothing, the whole salary, or a range of percentages.

Cunningham said a number of options have been discussed, including possible grants or other divisions of the funding, but "the city staff was most comfortable with splitting it, and I think most school districts in Colorado are doing (that)."

The change in funding by the city will go before the City Council Nov. 18, and Cunningham will present the School Board with more information at its meeting Nov. 17.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

steamboatcrazy 5 years, 5 months ago

Gosh, this is a no brainer!! Lets use part of the !/2 cent sales tax to pay for the school resource officer salary, this is something we can't afford to lose.

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justice4all 5 years, 5 months ago

An officer is as necessary as a math teacher in a school. It is a shame that we must have an authority figure present, but "we the people" took the ability to discipline away from our teachers. We can not allow another COLOMBINE to happen in our town. One may argue that this is Steamboat and nothing will happen here. Let's pray that nothing does. If something does happen, we will be blessed to have our officer present.

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Dave Ege 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree it is an important presence in the schools as J4all stated. I don't even have a dog in this fight as my children are older and gone, but Police should make it known that the are here to help, and are approachable. A good relationship with law enforcement makes for a better society. I was thrilled that SBS citizens approved 2A & 2B. Thank you! As a resident of Oak Creek, we try to support our local businesses, but let's face it, SBS gets a major amount of our shopping dollars. Giving the fund board the opportunity to help North, West and South Routt schools is a huge benefit to these areas. Again, thank you!

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sunflowergirl9999 5 years, 5 months ago

$84,000?? Really? Does that seem like a lot to anyone? I agree the position is needed, but $84,000 for a relatively new officer?? Thoughts?

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papafu 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree sunflowergirl. How does the $84K plus benefits compare with other officers in the SSPD? I know for a fact that it is way above what most(all) teachers make in Steamboat.

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