STANTON — The Central Montcalm Public School Board of Education approved in a 6-0 vote to pursue the concept of having an armed resource officer on campus.
At the board’s regular meeting Wednesday, Stanton City Manager James Freed gave a brief overview of the proposal to have a city police officer on the school property for approximately 20-25 hours per week, beginning with a trial period from March 1 to the end of the school year.
“Some of the concerns that I have heard was over an armed officer in the school buildings,” Freed said. “Yes, he would be armed and would be there for the safety and security of our children. But let’s broaden the scale here and see how the officer could help with truancy, give anti-bullying presentations and anti-drug presentations. It would be more of a support staff role.
“Safety is the No. 1 priority, and though you are out of our jurisdiction, a lot of your students live within our jurisdiction. The officer would still be in close proximity to the city if a major crisis should arise.”
CM Superintendent Kristi Teall explained the officer’s salary for the nearly four-month trial period would be paid through 31A funding, which is designated for specific items.
“If 50 percent of our student body qualifies for free lunch, which they do, we are able to use 20 percent of the 31A funding toward security measures,” Teall said.
“We are not taking any dollars which could be used to pay a teacher,” Freed said.
The resource officer would be paid $20 per hour, accumulating a $6,000 salary.
Freed explained to the six board members present that with a shared service agreement, he would go to Sidney Township and the Village of Sheridan and if they were to agree to the proposal, he could then apply for a grant that would fund the first three years of a four-year contract.
“Often the first interaction children have with an officer is not a good one, they have done something wrong or a family member is getting arrested or something,” Freed said. “One of the long-term benefits of this is the fact the students can form a relationship with the officer.”
After more discussion, the board agreed to have Freed continue pursuing the possibility, and they will vote on it at the Feb. 20 meeting.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.