Memorandum of Understanding with the School Resource Officer approved by the school board, the board

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The Town of Milford and the Milford School District have reached a Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers

In meetings held concurrently, the Milford School District and the Town of Milford approved a Memorandum of Understanding for District School Resource Officers. The school board briefly discussed the contract at their meeting.

“We were able to come to an agreement with the city for a five-year incremental increase and that aligns with the contract negotiations they have with Milford Police,” said Milford School District Chief Financial Officer Dr. Sara Croce. “We were able to cut the costs of the agreement with the school crossing guards in half thanks to the recognition of the city that they will participate in this program with us for the safety of our students.”

School board president Jason Miller asked if Dr. Croce felt it was a fair deal for both parties and Croce said she thought it was. The school board approved the agreement unanimously without further agreement. The discussion at the city council, however, was much longer. At this meeting, the Memorandum of Understanding was presented by Lou Vitola, Chief Financial Officer.

“The costs have gone up so much and the MOU has become obsolete over the years. It seemed like a lot for the district to digest at first. They were looking for ways to have a really lower impact on the budget as we looked for ways to take a step towards full cost recovery,” Vitola said. “So we’ve presented full cost recovery numbers based on a breakdown of the time between when officers are serving the school district, which is about nine or 10 months out of the year, and then there’s the entire summer . With this split it was just too much for the budget to sustain and the memorandum of understanding modeled the responsibilities of the school crossing guards and other departments came into play like parks and recreation but we decided to address them separately and to keep this agreement focused on the SROs and the police.

Vitola explained that the city was using a five-year stability rate that would eventually result in full cost recovery to the city for school resource officers. The increase would be $7,500 per year for the next five years with a starting point of $145,000 for two school resource officers. The district had the flexibility to choose the number of officers it wanted as long as the city could supply additional officers with the current staff. The MOU also allows for the agreement to simply be renewed after five years, unless changes are needed.

“We really wanted to promote good working relationships. We don’t want to go through this every year and haggle and debate the real cost of agents. We have a contract in place which increases wages,” Vitola said. “It is right that residents of Milford receive cost recovery for any services from any of our departments. And we think that’s a fair contract for the school district as well as the city, so that’s where we landed and hopefully if the board approves it unchanged tonight and the school district does it too, then it will be an effect.

Mayor Archie Campbell asked Vitola to confirm there were only two officers included in the MOU and Vitola said it was true, there were two confirmed officers dedicated to resource officers school. Chief Kenneth Brown confirmed that due to staffing issues at the police department, only two officers could be provided to the district and that the district made up the difference by using police officers from other schools.

“I say you have Lulu Ross, Mispillion and Banneker, elementary schools. Two are close together, just one block away. The other is almost on the other side. You have one person covering those three schools,” Mayor Campbell said. “And then we have one in college and one in college. Especially what is happening in schools today. Me being in this school for seven years. I’m not comfortable with that, to be honest. I mean if something were to happen and let’s just say it’s not Mispillion or Lulu Ross, it’s at Banneker. it’s going to be bad for that person to go to Banneker from Ross or Mispillion. So it does not make me warm and comfortable. High school, college, they are pretty close and they can get there pretty quickly because I went to both schools. But with what is happening in society today, I am not comfortable.

Councilor Andy Fulton pointed out that the old Milford Middle School would also open, to which Mayor Campbell said it would not be open for a few years.

“I know but I mean, but this deal is based on two. But I mean it could be a little more open-ended where it’s based on the needs of the school district as identified,” Councilman Fulton said. “With this billing matrix, it’s written in such a way that the school district can pick one, two, or three.”

Vitola agreed, stating that as long as the police could accept the choice of additional officers, it would be possible. However, based on the district’s budget constraints, the district was comfortable with the two-officer model. Councilor Jason James asked how many constables there were in addition to school resource officers. Chief Brown wasn’t sure, but he believed there were at least three. Councilor James said the council could not decide for the district how many officers it needed.

“I totally agree that the school system, we’re in a different time,” said Councilman Todd Culotta. “I agree with the mayor and his comments, but they really need to figure out what their security requirements are and how that matches up with what we can provide.”

Mayor Campbell continued to voice his concerns.

“I’m not comfortable. I’m holding back my anger to be honest with you,” he said.

Councilor James reiterated that it was a decision for the district to tell the city what it needed, but it also needed funding to cover the cost of these officers.

“It’s a crazy world now. We’re talking about one or two. We should be worried about our children,” Mayor Campbell said. ” I do not feel comfortable. No one here has been to those schools. I’m the only one and I see what happens, especially in college, which is the worst between fighting and everything. And high schools, but I’m thinking elementary schools and little kids. I want this recorded. I don’t agree with that.

Councilor James pointed out that the memorandum of understanding simply provides for cost recovery to the city for officers provided to the district.

“I want to make sure everyone in the audience listening understands that the school district needs to tell the board so that we can get to our police department how many they need, what resources they need.” We are not in a position to make this decision for the school district. We are a separate entity, we cannot make this decision for them. So our lobbying and talking about their numbers really needs to be addressed by Kevin Dickerson and school board president Jason Miller.

Mayor Campbell said having only two officers at the school made him less confident about the safety of children.

“I don’t think anyone disagrees with you, Mayor,” Councilor Culotta said. “I just think there’s a process and that’s why we have a school board and a school administration. And we can work with them, of course, but it’s not up to us to tell them what they need.

Councilor Katrina Wilson pointed out that the discussion sounded a lot like a council about the Carlisle Fire Company recently.

“It’s almost like Carlisle, where we felt like we were okay with giving an amount, but we thought it should be directed to a different department than where they wanted it to go,” said said Councilor Wilson. “It’s kind of the same kind of thing. And, maybe a conversation can take place with the school and with us, but they are responsible for protecting our children and it is this body that must first make this decision.

The memorandum of understanding was approved by council and Mayor Campbell said he disagreed with only two officers provided to the district.

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