School Board, City Council, Sheriff hold first joint meeting

For the first time in anyone’s memory, all members of the El Dorado Springs City Council, plus City Manager Bruce Rogers, Police Chief Jarrod Schiereck, City Clerk Kandi Baldwin and Cedar County Sheriff James McCrary all attended a regular meeting of the El Dorado Springs School Board to discuss hiring a School Resource Officer to protect the students at the school.

Present were all school board members Chad Whitesell, Bennie Brower, Mark Burley, Terri Shepard, Josh Floyd, Greg Beydler and Darrell Eason – presiding, plus Superintendent Mark Koca and Board Secretary Tania Molz.

In the consent agenda, the board approved the minutes of the last meeting and the payment of bills totaling $425,213.87.

Then the board recognized the senior football players and their coaches as conference champions, the volleyball team and coaches as conference and district champions and the cross-country coach and runners as state qualifiers.

Then, under new business, the officials got down to the reason they all gathered – regarding hiring a School Resource Officer.

Supt. Mark Koca said, “for the last five months, we’ve been kicking around the idea of having a school resource officer on campus. We’ve entertained some proposals for having a private officer. I didn’t really feel like that was the right thing for us to do at the time.” He said he had talked with the police chief and city manager about a partnership that would “work for all of us.”

He said the initial proposal was for it to be a city officer which the school would pay the city for the use of. “For us to add an SRO to our liability insurance would really run up our rates ridiculously. You guys are already paying that rate. We would probably be looking at about 170 days time for this officer. That would leave 40 or 50 days for the officer to work for the city.” He said that if that officer was sick, the school would be looking for an officer to step in and fill the gap.

The supt. said, “At that point I don’t really know where to go from here other than kind of make it a question and answer session.”

“We are pretty dedicated to making this happen at this point in time.

Now, I’ll just shut up and listen.”

The city manager said the city has experienced a loss of about a $20,000 thousand in revenue in financial institution tax the state did away with and had a significant increase in our work comp rates because some fire fighters were injured about three years ago.

He said, “It would create a problem filling in if the officer is sick.”

Rogers said the police department currently has seven full time officers including the chief.

Rogers handed it off to the sheriff at that point.

Supt. Koca said, “Sheriff, you are currently providing an SRO for the Stockton School at their expense, right?”

Shf. McCrary said, “I’m not. No.”

The board asked if the Stockton SRO is a deputy. The sheriff said he is not.

Greg Beydler asked the sheriff if he had someone with the skills to be an SRO. The sheriff said, “I do have. Thank you all for having me here. I appreciate that.”

Shf. McCrary said, “I’ll keep it real simple. I’d be interested in helping you guys out with this. It’s for a good cause. All I would need is the officer’s salary plus benefits for the hours that he works for the school. I’d provide his law enforcement training and equipment. A vehicle. I might need a little bit of help with fuel. I couldn’t tell you exactly what that would be at the moment. I could write up a proposal for you if you want.”

Greg Beydler said, “We are looking at it for the school year and an additional month for summer school.”

The sheriff said, “I’d be willing to help you all out with that.”

Supt. Koca said, “Can you give us at least a rough idea of where your officers’ pay scale starts?”

The sheriff said it was around $30,000 plus benefits.

Rogers said they were talking about mid -40s with the city.

Supt. Koca said, “One thing that is really important that the individual who would serve in this capacity be a certain individual. We don’t need a G I Joe in here. We would like to be a major part of that hiring process when the time comes.”

Shf. McCrary said, “That person would be employed by the county. I would be his boss for hiring and firing. I would definitely go with what you guys recommend.”

Koca asked if there would be any issses about a deputy working inside the city limits.  Chief Sherieck said deputies work inside the city limits all the time.

Chief Sherieck said that if there is an unexpected vacancy, “We would see if an officer would be interested in coming up and covering.”

The sheriff said he would get back to the school with a proposal by the December board meeting.

Supt. Koca said they had totally ruled out arming teachers because of the liability cost and because it would divide a teacher’s attention. He said that Warsaw armed teachers for awhile but stopped when an armed teacher drew down on an unruly patron “who was not being that threatening. It was a pretty big incident. They have one SRO in Warsaw who rotates between four buildings.”

Supt. Koca told Sheriff McCrary, “We’d absolutely like to entertain a proposal from you.”

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