GREENVILLE — After several years of community discussion, most Darke County schools and local law enforcement agencies are working together this school year to create and maintain a safe and secure learning environment for students, teachers and staff by participating in a School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
Franklin-Monroe Local Schools and Mississinawa Valley Schools recently partnered with the Darke County Sheriff’s Office, who, through a memorandum of understanding, will provide full-time deputy sheriff, Josh Brinley, as a SRO to be split between the two school districts.
“We are extremely excited to work cooperatively with the Sheriff’s Office on providing a resource officer for our students and staff,” said Jeff Patrick, Franklin-Monroe superintendent. “Sheriff [Toby L.] Spencer has been very proactive in trying to place a uniformed officer in the school and we are grateful for his ambition to do so. We believe there are huge benefits to having our students interact with the resource officer. We are looking forward to the partnership and expect it to be a huge success.”
According to the Ohio School Resource Officers Association (OSROA), the program reflects a community’s desire to ensure that its schools are safe, secure and orderly. The officers represent a proactive strategy designed to bring prevention and intervention into the schools.
“The School Resource Officer program is designed to fulfill three roles in concert with school administration,” said Darke County Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker. “They are law enforcement, crime prevention and education. The educational component will be conducted through cooperation with school officials. Examples of presentations may include drug awareness and education, bullying, conflict resolution, personal and social responsibility.”
This is the first year the Darke County Sheriff’s Office has implemented the program and the cost will come from the department’s budget.
According to its website, the OSROA believes the presence of a properly trained school resource officer within a school provides a first line of defense against violence, fosters communication/partnerships between educators, law enforcement, students and parents and ensures safer and more productive school communities in Ohio.
Whittaker said most school districts in the county fall within municipal limits that have existing police departments, which can provide SROs to their schools.
According to the OSROA, on a daily basis, the SRO program depends on the working relationships which exist between the SROs and school principal. By sharing a common vision that schools must be safe and secure for learning to take place, the SROs and principals become members of a team united in making certain that learning environments are free of fear and conducive to learning.
One of those schools is Arcanum-Butler Local Schools, that also recently acquired a school resource officer after partnering with the Arcanum Police Department.
“…We felt it was important to have a school resource officer as a proactive step in addressing concerns and challenges that our students and school community face,” said John Stephens, Arcanum-Butler superintendent. “A school resource officer is able to provide an additional layer of protection and safety for our students, provide positive interaction with students as a liaison between local law enforcement and the school and provide coordinated instructional activities to educate our students on topics such as drug abuse and social media misuse and dangers.”
The school district contracts with the Village of Arcanum for school resource officer services, which makes the SRO an employee of the village and on their payroll as an officer however, the district pays the village for 182 days of service costing the district more than $30,000. The district also pays for annual SRO training and membership, Stephen said.
At Arcanum-Butler schools, the SRO provides a number of services during the school day such as providing security throughout the building.
“During such times Officer [Jeramy] Hyden will develop and implement educational activities to present to students and parents on a regular basis,” Stephens said. “As needed, he will provide law-related counseling in special situations if a student is suspected of criminal misconduct or suspects other students of criminal misconduct. He may also assist the district with traffic control on school grounds as needed. We look forward to officer Hyden being a positive role model for our students.”
Greenville City Schools partnered with local law enforcement, which resulted in the Greenville Police Department providing two SROs to the school district this school year, one at the high school level, Officer Jesse Osswald, who has been there for three years, and the additional officer, Officer Ryan Borowske, will now be at the junior high school level full-time.
“It is important for schools to have resource officers to provide ongoing safety of our students and staff,” said Greenville City Schools Superintendent Doug Fries. “They can also provide valuable educational programming lessons on a variety of topics and provide supervision.”
Fries said the resource officers will cost $40,000 each by contract with the city this year.
“The school resource officers some educational programming related to safety, well being and getting along with each other with positive relationships,” he said. “They also provide a resource to the students, staff administrators and in some cases, parents. They can assist us in our school crisis and safety planning. They add supervision in cafeterias, parking lots and in and around school.”
Versailles Exempted Village Schools, utilizes a SRO from the City of Versailles Police Department. The school district employs Officer Frank Maus on a part-time basis at an annual cost of approximately $15,000, according to Superintendent Aaron Moran.
“Officer Maus interacts with students in the lunchroom and passing times,” he said. “He is a resource for classroom and group instruction for students too. He also provides communication between the police department and the district. Police officers play a vital role in the community. By being consistently at school, the officer can develop positive interactions with students and provide safety and support in times of crisis.”
Although the Bradford Exempted Village School District doesn’t have a SRO, it’s partnered with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office to provide school security officers (sheriff’s deputies) throughout the school year.
“The safety of our students and staff is our greatest responsibility at Bradford Exempted Village School District,” said Superintendent Ken Miller. “Like other districts and organizations, safety has become a top priority, especially when considering the numerous tragedies occurring elsewhere. Our goal is to prevent similar incidents from happening at Bradford Schools. After a school tragedy, we often hear people say ‘I can’t believe something like this happened here.’ We are trying to do our part so hopefully we never have to respond in such a manner.”
Miller said the school district pays a daily fee of $100 however, only when deputies are scheduled to be on campus.
“They provide security, guidance, support and crime prevention in our school system,” he said.
Along with acquiring security officers, Bradford school district has implemented new safety procedures this year such as guest registry, where a guest must report to the front office to sing in before gaining access to the building and wear guest badges and student and staff identification badges, where students and staff will display district ID badges at all times when at school or on school property.
The Tri-Village School District also doesn’t have a SRO, but has a safety coordinator. Like a SRO, the school’s safety coordinator maintains a safe, secure environment for students and staff.
“His name is Dale Ary. Mr. Ary is a retired Darke County Sheriff’s deputy of 30 years,” said Tri-Village District School Superintendent Josh Sagester. “The board of education brought Mr. Ary on board to serve as the district’s safety coordinator four years ago due to his law enforcement experience. We are very lucky to have Mr. Ary’s presence in our school system as he has excellent rapport with our students, staff and community.”
Sagester said the cost of having a daily safety coordinator is paid by the district, which costs approximately $10,000 per year.
“Mr. Ary is vigilant and serves as a positive role model for our students on a daily basis,” Sagester said. “You will often see Mr. Ary in the parking log, at the cross walk, in the hallways, in the lunchroom, in the classroom and even at recess.”
Ansonia Local Schools is the only district in the county that currently does not have a SRO or security officer.
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