School Resource Officers May Return to Middle Schools
Reinstating three positions would cost the district $256,000.
School resource officers may be returning to the middle schools starting in September.
District officials are considering reinstating school resource officers at the middle schools. Officials mentioned the possible move at a budget meeting Thursday.
School resource officers are full-time police officers who work exclusively in schools. They receive special training to deal with children. They are taught to work with kids, counsel them, and help them work through any serious problems they may be experiencing.
Up until a few years ago, an SRO was assigned to each middle school. However, grants funded the programs and when the grant money was cut, so were the positions.
“Ideally, we would have SROs return to our middle schools. However, as this is a budget issue, we need to consider what is fiscally feasible. Both entities must contend with budget caps when planning for the following year,” Superintendent Ray Gonzalez said. “At this point, until a solution can be found, we are simply including middle schools SROs as a line item in the budget to demonstrate an interest in the SRO program or a comparable alternative.”
The district and the township would each pay for half the cost. The three officers would cost the district $256,000 next school year.
Janine Del Vecchio and Karen Maron, co-presidents of the Wayne Council of Parent Teacher Organizations, declined to comment.
Police Chief John Reardon spoke positively about the proposed change.
“I think it’s a great program. Having the SROs in the middle schools was very beneficial for the schools and the police department,” Reardon said. “The kids get to see the police officers in a different light. They get to see them as people and work with them. We’ve had some great interactions with the kids.”
Reardon said no one has mentioned the proposed hirings to him.
Mark DuBois is the SRO at Wayne Hills. Mike Zaccone is the SRO at Wayne Valley.
“It’s been fantastic,” Zaccone said. “It’s been so much more than what I expected. It’s enhanced my relationship with the community. I look forward to going to work everyday and working with principal Bob Reis and the students. It’s been great.”