The Douglas County Board of Education has expressed skepticism of the board of county commissioners’ proposal to fund an ongoing $3.3 million for additional school resource officers, in part …
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The Douglas County Board of Education has expressed skepticism of the board of county commissioners’ proposal to fund an ongoing $3.3 million for additional school resource officers, in part because the district’s budget has already been prepared for the 2019-20 school year.
The commissioners’ plan would require schools to pay an annual 50% match for the SROs.
“We do appreciate the Commissioners recommending that $10-13 million of taxpayer dollars be used to support PUBLIC school safety and mental health support,” a statement on behalf of the school board says. “However, asking recipients to show that they have `skin in the game’ by matching this funding not only exacerbates `competition for dollars’ but it is virtually impossible when plans for school budgets expenditures have already been committed. It is critical to distribute resources that will promote equity, as opposed to whether a school has matching financial resources.”
At a May 28 meeting — exactly three weeks after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch left one student dead and eight others injured — commissioners allocated $13.3 million toward school safety initiatives.
Their plan outlined an ongoing $3 million to pay for 61 schools resource officers in the county by the 2021-22 school year, contingent on the 50% annual match, along with the formation of two committees that would dictate spending of a $10 million one-time gift.
School board President David Ray said there has been no decision regarding the district’s ability to fund the 50% match for SROs, but that “district staff is in the process of developing some potential options for the board to consider.”
The district’s proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year will be presented to the board of education for approval at a board meeting beginning at 5 p.m. on June 18 at the district’s administration building, 620 Wilcox St., Castle Rock.
Board members have also expressed concerns about the terms of the commissioners’ proposal, which would provide SROs to not only traditional public schools and charter schools but also to private schools.
“I personally have great pause that you are including private schools in this conversation because this is public money, and we know we don’t give public money to private entities because we have no control over those,” school board member Anne-Marie Lemieux said at a May 23 study session with the board of commissioners.
County Commissioner Abe Laydon said the board consulted with county legal staff before including private schools in their proposal and concluded it was within their purview.
Commissioners said they remain optimistic. They have yet to discuss what will happen if the school district declines their financial offer.
If the district does decline the money, Laydon expects members of the public “will have a lot to say about that.”
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