Possible Changes to SRO Contracts
Greenville ISD received notification from the City Manager on June 2nd, 2016, that some City Council members expressed concern with the City’s budget and that they felt that GISD should fully fund the cost of the three School Resource Officers (SROs) effective October 1, 2016. A similar suggestion had been offered a year earlier in August of 2015, but after productive meetings, the contract was renegotiated and GISD and the City remained in agreeance to each pay 50% of two SRO salaries. A third officer, 100% funded by Greenville ISD, was also hired as a result of these negotiations.
The current contract for the SRO arrangement automatically ends on July 31, 2016. If the contract is not renewed, the City of Greenville assumes full cost of the three officers. However, the City has the option of utilizing these officers on regular patrol to serve the City full-time.
Greenville ISD is in the process of preparing a balanced budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The City was requesting GISD to assume more financial responsibility for the SROs and the details of the SRO funding has also become a reoccurring issue. Even with the current contract, the cost has become prohibitive. Because SROs are employees of the City of Greenville, attend police trainings on school days, and do not work within Greenville ISD schools year round, it would be fiscally irresponsible for GISD to assume the full cost of their salaries and benefits. In the past three years, there were 127 school days in which at least one of the SROs was not present in the district. Consequently, Greenville ISD must consider an alternative option that protects GISD students and staff and is cost effective for GISD taxpayers.
One solution to keep Greenville ISD safe and secure while remaining fiscally responsible is a Greenville ISD police department. The development of a school district police department will ensure GISD-employed officers are in district year round and will allow the district to better ensure campus safety priorities are being met every school day. In addition, GISD can hire off-duty officers as needed on a daily basis to assist a district police department.
Superintendent Don Jefferies stated, “We appreciate the City giving GISD enough notice to sufficiently explore options for keeping our students and staff safe. Our number one priority will always be to return students to their homes safe and secure at the end of each school day.”
The details of a Greenville ISD Police Department are currently being considered and will be vetted through the Greenville ISD Board of Trustees. Those with questions are encouraged to contact Kelli Tharp, Chief Communications and Business Development Officer, at 903.408.4483 or email@example.com.