PES to get school re­source of­fi­cer

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­

DEN­TON — Pre­ston El­e­men­tary School will soon have its own full-time school re­source of­fi­cer, after the Pre­ston town com­mis­sion­ers, Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers and Caro­line County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion all agreed to help fund the new po­si­tion.

Capt. James Henning of the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said the of­fi­cer hired for the job, who re­cently re­tired from the sher­iff’s of­fice, should be in place at the school by the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber at the lat­est.

CCPS As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Mil­ton Nagel said be­cause Pre­ston does not have a town po­lice force, Pre­ston El­e­men­tary School was the log­i­cal choice to be as­signed an SRO.

“Each of the town po­lice de­part­ments are at­ten­tive to their re­spec­tive el­e­men­tary schools, and main­tain a very vis­i­ble pres­ence,” he said. “With­out a lo­cal po­lice force, this is not pos­si­ble at Pre­ston El­e­men­tary.”

Nagel said the role of the SRO is to build pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents and staff and, to the ex­tent pos­si­ble, re­solve is­sues be­fore they es­ca­late.

Henning came to the Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing Tues­day, Sept. 11, to ask the county to cover part of the new 10-month po­si­tion’s $64,700 salary.

Pre­ston’s town com­mis­sion­ers voted the night be­fore, Mon­day, Sept. 10, to give $10,800, Henning said. The re­main­der will be split evenly be­tween the county gov­ern­ment and the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, $26,950 each.

The com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously to con­trib­ute the nec­es­sary fund­ing.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens said the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion would also con­trib­ute its share.

Pre­ston Com­mis­sioner Kath­leen Barry thanked the county com­mis­sion­ers and Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for help­ing pay for the new po­si­tion.

“We’re grate­ful you’re will­ing to put up the money to get cov­er­age,” Barry said. “We are very ap­pre­cia­tive.”

Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s Mary­land Safe to Learn Act, signed ear­lier this year, re­quires ev­ery pub­lic el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school in Mary­land to have ei­ther a school re­source of­fi­cer or an ad­e­quate re­sponse plan from lo­cal po­lice in place be­fore the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Both mid­dle schools in Caro­line County al­ready have a school re­source of­fi­cer, as do both high schools.

Henning said the sher­iff’s of­fice is still wait­ing for le­gal guid­ance on what will count as an ad­e­quate re­sponse plan for lo­cal po­lice; the sher­iff’s of­fice might end up hav­ing to as­sign school re­source of­fi­cers to the re­main­ing four el­e­men­tary schools be­fore the start of the next school year.

Mary­land is dis­tribut­ing money to all lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions next year to help fund the new school safety re­quire­ments, Henning said; Caro­line County should get be­tween $60,000 and $70,000.

How­ever, he said, it is still un­clear if that will be one-time fund­ing, or con­tinue an­nu­ally.

Four of the five el­e­men­tary schools — Den­ton, Fed­er­als­burg, Greens­boro and Ridgely — are cov­ered by town po­lice that visit the schools on a daily ba­sis and re­spond as needed in an emer­gency.

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