Should the village help pay to keep a police presence inside Wellington’s schools?
Some board of education members say yes, including Ayers Ratliff, who in an Aug. 19 meeting proposed asking village council for $15,000 in funding.
Board member Daniel Rosecrans shared the sentiments.
“I feel this is a benefit to the village as much as it is to the school and the village should come forward and offer to assist us with this,” he said. “I know the program is valuable because I’ve been through the (school resource office) program. The fact that the village isn’t participating in funding this is a little disappointing.”
School board members voted to pay for police patrols for the first 30 days of the academic year.
They’ll revisit the issue in September.
Ratliff said the district spent $38,000 to fund the SRO program last year. It was started thanks largely to a $10,000 donation in 2015 from John Cloud Sr. and John Cloud Jr. — CEO and president respectively of Forest City Technologies.
“When a business in your community is supporting the program to that extent, you certainly don’t want to lose it,” said Ratliff. “When you have an officer in one of the buildings all the time, it is definitely a safer place for our kids. This is definitely a needed program, but I don’t think the village is helping us to the extent that it could.”
Area schools do sometimes receive help with their SRO programs, as both LaGrange and Amherst cover part of the cost for their respective districts.
Acting superintendent Greg Ring said there is strong support to continue the program from the Educational Service Center of Lorain County.
“I met with administration and they feel very strongly that this is something that needs to be kept in the schools,” he said. “That goes for all of the schools down to elementary.”
Board member Kevin Stump does not think the district can afford to go without a police presence in its schools.
“As a parent with young children in the district, the SRO program gives us comfort,” he said. “I don’t want to take action that would do away with it because of terrible scenarios in schools that we don’t even want to speak of.”
Wellington police Lt. Jeff Shelton runs the SRO program and said he and others have made an effort to raise funds.
At the end of last year there was about $11,100 raised, he said. “Dennis Mock, myself, and Mr. Ratliff sent out a signed letter that brought in about $8,000 of that. The teachers put on a spaghetti dinner and raised the last $3,000. Someone from the school board needs to contact us with these issues because we’re kind of in the dark about it.”
Shelton said all pay for the program comes through the school district, but the police department pays for the maintenance of the car used in the SRO program.
School district treasurer Tina Gabler said even if the district cannot find financial help, the funds do exist to keep the program running this coming school year.
Fundraising dollars were deposited into the school’s general fund, but there is no separate account for the SRO program, she said.
“Going back through the general fund and trying to run reports to decide what’s where is difficult,” she said. “From my perspective, the funding is available for the program if they choose to keep it.”
If the funds exist to cover the program, mayor Hans Schneider said it should remain the school district’s responsibility.
“Our belief is the school should pay for it, ” he said. “If they didn’t have the funds we could brainstorm together and see what could be done. If they have the money, though, they should pay for it. We’ll continue to provide the vehicle, gas, and maintenance.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise School board member Daniel Rosecrans discusses the school resource officer program with president Sally Stewart. Rosecrans said he values the program but feels the village should help pay for it.