Editorial: The money is there, the support is there

Posted 2/28/18

A day after 17 people were shot and killed at a Parkland, Fla., high school, a member of the Barrington School Committee said funding a full-time school resource officer position was not a priority …

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Editorial: The money is there, the support is there

Posted

A day after 17 people were shot and killed at a Parkland, Fla., high school, a member of the Barrington School Committee said funding a full-time school resource officer position was not a priority for the local school board. 

Barrington parents should have a problem with that.

In fact, the question about whether to fund one full-time police resource officer might be better replaced with a discussion on how many police officers the school district should have monitoring and securing its buildings. (Just ask any parent as they sent their sons and daughters off to school this past Monday morning.)

So why, exactly, is the school committee not supporting this move?

Is it a question of money? 

Officials say it will cost the district an additional $72,000 for salary and benefits to fund the full-time school resource officer position.

According to the Barrington Budget Forecasting Committee's report, the school department finished the last fiscal year with a budget surplus of $723,662 (despite officials saying they needed to cut $30,000 for middle school sports during the lead-up to the May financial town meeting.) 

It was a similar situation the year before that, when the district finished with a surplus of $815,941, and the year before that, when the schools finished with a surplus of $553,454. In fact, a six-year snapshot of the school budgets shows that the district has compiled more than $3.8 million in surplus money. 

So it’s not the money — there’s plenty of money.

Is it a question of support?

Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said he strongly supports the move to fund a full-time school resource officer. In fact, he was shocked to hear that the school committee was not making it a priority to fund a full-time SRO position. “We need to have more of a presence in our schools,” he said during an interview on Monday morning, Feb. 26.

Chief LaCross is not alone. School administrators, principals, students and even the school committee members themselves heaped praise on School Resource Officer Josh Melo during a recent meeting. Even those who are calling for the committee to prioritize the school start time initiative would be hesitant to argue against a full-time school resource officer in town. 

So it’s not the support — there's plenty of support.

It’s time the school committee revisit its priorities for the proposed budget and show parents that the safety of their children is paramount. It’s time the school committee fund a full-time school resource officer in Barrington.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.