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The sheriff’s office is requesting a reimbursement increase from the school board to continue its school resource officer program or it may have to pull the officer from the school, according to Anderson County Sheriff Troy Young.
Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Blackhurst currently serves as the county school resource officer at Anderson County High School, with the school board funding 25 percent of his salary.
The Board of Education voted 4-0 at Monday night’s meeting to table a request to increase the percentage of Blackhurst’s salary reimbursed to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office from 25 to 75 percent.
Board member James Sargent was absent from the meeting.
Based on a “handshake agreement” between Sheriff Troy Young and former Assistant Superintendent Larry Basham back in 2005, Young said during Monday night’s meeting, the school board agreed to reimburse 25 percent of the school resource officer’s salary.
Given funding cuts in the sheriff’s office “ongoing yard sale” budget, Young said, the sheriff’s office can no longer support the 25 percent salary compensation from the school board.
“We’re struggling with 25 percent,” Young said.
Blackhurst, among other duties at the high school, monitors and assists with traffic along Broadway during the school day, Young said.
“Now we walk in the school and they call you by your first name,” Young said. “We’re a fixture.”
Anderson County High School Principal Ronnie Fields agreed, describing school resource officers as an “extra guidance counselor.”
“It’s always good to know we have a law enforcement officer in the building,” Fields said.
School board president Roger McDowell said he would warrant that Blackhurst does a great job as school resource officer, but that he doubts the school district has an excess of $23,000 in the budget to increase the percentage the district pays.
“But from my perspective, it’s not about Paul,” McDowell said. “It’s a matter of dollars and cents.”
McDowell asked Young if the school board could have 60 days to consider its options regarding the compensation increase.
Young said he must present the next fiscal year’s budget for the sheriff’s office to the fiscal court by the second Tuesday in December. He said he can work from the numbers he currently has, and go back and revise the budget depending on the school board’s decision.
But continuing the 25 percent reimbursement could mean only 25 percent of Blackhurst’s time spent on school resource officer duties next year, Young said, or the sheriff’s office may have to cancel the school resource officer program altogether.
“I’ve got to look at what’s best for the agency,” he said.
McDowell asked Young what would happen to Deputy Blackhurst in the interim as the sheriff prepares his budget.
Young said the school resource officer would continue his duties for the current school year; his request for an increase would affect the 2013-2014 school year.
McDowell said the decision would be tabled for further review.
No date had been set for a special-called meeting as of Nov. 19.
KETS offers $37,802
in funding assistance
The Kentucky Education Technology Services (KETS) offered $37,802 in funding assistance based on fiscal year 2012 state ADA figures to be equally matched by the Board of Education.
According to Bret Foster, chief information officer, this amount has decreased significantly in the last 10 years, from $115 per student to $12 per student for the 2013-2014 school year.
The district match of the KETS funding has been budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year, Foster said.
Superintendent receives positive evaluation from board
Board president McDowell presented a summary of Mitchell’s job performance as Anderson County superintendent on Monday night, stating the school board was “very pleased” with her administration.
“We feel she has done an excellent job over the past year managing all aspects of the Anderson County School System … educational leadership is an area of strength for Mrs. Mitchell,” McDowell wrote in Mitchell’s evaluation summary.
The summary also states that Mitchell has been very involved in community activities, well-organized, efficient and “fiscally conservative and has done an excellent job controlling spending in an era of chronic reductions in revenues from state and federal sources.”
The board approved a measure to refinance its Series 2005 bonds, which should save the district about $31,000 a year, Clark said.
“There is no downside to this,” Clark said of refinancing. Keith Brock, the representative from Civic Finance Advisors LLC, said the process may take up to six months.
The board also approved $6,447.45 from Sherman Carter Barnett for the facility survey used for Long Range Planning; $17,273.52 for Algebra I textbooks for high school freshmen to be purchased with instructional fee funds; and $13,440 for seven DVR systems to be installed in newer school buses that do not already have a camera system.