New Milford school leaders want officers to stay
"It would be a shame to lose them,'' said school board
. "We need those resources now more than ever.''
Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote told the committee last week that the jobs, which cost $120,000, -- are in jeopardy because of the police department's tight budget next year.
Several board members said having the officers in the schools the past several years has proved to be invaluable for school security.
Even though there is some national debate on the long-term benefit of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, school officials argued that the program has worked well here.
Faulenbach said Officer Kevin O'Neill at Sarah Noble and Officer Peter DeLouis at Schaghticoke Middle School have also been strong role models for the students.
New Milford High School also has a school resource officer, Donald Woods , but school leaders said cutting that position was not mentioned.
If the other officers are reassigned, they would bolster the patrol ranks and reduce overtime costs, Police Chief Colin McCormack said, but no decision has been made.
"Everything is on the table,'' he said, while deciding how the department can best serve the town.
Paddyfote said she finds the positions "invaluable." She added, "It would not be good (to lose the officers), but I know it's tough times."
The proposed police budget eliminates one administrative position, leaves two patrol vacancies unfilled, and seeks to reduce overtime costs. The department currently has 49 sworn officers.
School board chairman Lisa Diamond said she hopes the positions can be saved in the police budget, because the school district could not afford to pay for them.
The Board of Finance still has to review the combined $90 million town and school budget approved by the Town Council before it is sent to voters in May.
Contact Nanci Hutson at email@example.com or at (860) 354-2274.