Milford School is another step closer to having a school resource officer in the building for a pilot program. During a special Wawasee school board meeting late Tuesday afternoon in Syracuse, the board approved unanimously entering into an agreement with the town of Milford to provide a resource officer for at least four hours each school day.
Assuming the Milford Town Council approves the agreement, it will be a pilot program beginning the first day of school (Aug. 13) and lasting until Christmas break. Wawasee Community School Corp. and the town of Milford would split the cost evenly at $7,000 each. Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, noted the school corporation would be reimbursed by a state grant and therefore funds would not be used from the regular budget.
Edington said a Milford police officer would be in Milford School at least four hours each day and some days “he may be there all day.”
Mike Wilson, school board member, asked who would supervise what the resource officer is involved in at the school. Edington noted the principal and others would arrange for the resource officer to speak to students in classrooms and other activities.
Though he voted to approve entering into the pilot program, Wilson said he has reservations about it. “I can see as many problems as benefits from it,” he said, noting working with kids is not necessarily the same as being a police officer and special training is needed.
The school board will reevaluate the pilot program after December. School corporation attorney David Cates said if the board chooses to keep the resource officer and apply for state grants to fund the program, the grant requires officers to have special training.
Also on the agenda, Tuesday’s meeting was held primarily as a budget workshop and the budget was discussed. Jim Evans, director of finance for the school corporation, said this year’s budget is similar to previous years and there are no significant differences. He said the state uses a formula based on enrollment numbers and the number of students on free or reduced price lunches, among other factors, to fund the general fund. “In reality, the budget is whatever they (state) give us and we have to make it work,” he said.
Edington said the state has claimed within the next four years funding will be more equal per student statewide, but that discussion has been going on for several years it was noted. He added in the past, if a student left a school district it took five years for the funding to be removed, but now it is removed immediately.
Evans said he feels better about this year’s state funding because the state is in better financial condition and tax collections should not be delayed.
The budget is typically advertised higher than the amount actually received from the state. The debt service fund, capital projects fund, transportation fund and bus replacement fund also make up the budget. The board gave approval for the 2014 budget to be advertised in local newspapers.
Other agenda items included:
- The board approved changing the Kuno computer tablet maintenance fee per high school student from $5 per year to $7 per trimester because $5 was not enough to cover repairs and purchasing replacements. Approval was also given to add $3 per student each trimester for the Kuno tablet fee.
- Personnel changes approved included Jared Knipper being hired as a kindergarten teacher at Syracuse Elementary to replace Deborah Nelson who died July 1, and Jason Glover is the new cafeteria manager at Wawasee High School, replacing Marleen Leamon, who retired.