The school resource officer contract between the Webster Parish School Board and the Cities of Minden and Springhill has been tabled again.
Board members expressed concern over the fact that the contract contained no dollar amounts.
District 8 Board Member Ronnie Broughton asked the approximate amount budgeted for each municipality; however, that number is not in the contract.
Finance Director Crevonne Odom estimated $95,000 annually for the two SROs for Minden High School and Webster Junior High School, and about $50,000 for Springhill, although she did not have the figures in front of her, she said.
“That estimate could go down because they had to take the DARE off, juvenile escorts, so it’s probably going to be a little less than the $95,000 for the two in Minden,” she said.
The SROs will be paid 10 months out of the year, instead of a full year’s salary. The other two months will revert back to their respective police departments.
“We only pay for the days they actually work,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls said. “If they’re sick, holidays, days they’re not in school, all of that’s out. We got into some little deeper issues, for instance DARE, that’s off the table too because it’s a grant. Those are the kind of things that are off the table.”
District 6 Board Member John Madden called the contract “terrible,” saying the board could do it for half that and save some money.
“The only thing that came to the surface was when the City of Minden held their hand out trying to cut their budget,” he said. “In the spirit of this whole thing, theoretically, they are there to serve and protect. I wouldn’t pay them that much money. It’s not a ton of money, but the city has some responsibility in helping with these kids too.”
He too called into question the reason for not having a set dollar amount in the contract.
Board President Charles Strong agreed with Madden in that the contract needs a dollar amount.
“I am accustomed to seeing a basic setup saying for providing these services we will pay you these many dollars,” he said. “It is of some concern to me that we have an unknown.”
Odom says she did present Minden and Springhill with timesheets she must have that details the SRO’s hours. For instance, if their set time to work is from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and they work over that, the officer must explain why he or she worked over that allotted time, she said.
“We needed all of that information,” she told board members. “That was the reason why I couldn’t add that you hadn’t approved it. I couldn’t pay anything. I just had to continue to pay the $1,500 per month. First of all, I can’t pay anything unless the board approves it, and you had not approved the contract. I did request that we have more detail to show me what the cost is for.”
Attorney Elmer Noah, sitting in for school board attorney Jon Guice, says it will be easy to put in a fixed amount, but explained the reason for writing the contract as presented was due to the fluctuation in the police departments’ salary schedules.
Had they passed Monday, the contracts would have been retroactive to cover salaries for the two SROs in Minden and the one in Springhill since August.
In respect to Doyline High School and Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School, Lakeside expressed interest in having a part-time SRO, and in Doyline, the principal said she was in favor of it, but the Doyline and Sibley Police Departments declined, Rawls said.
“We contacted both police departments to see if they were willing to participate, and as of this time, they are not,” he said.
The contract is expected to be presented to the board again in March.
Comment from Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper was unavailable as of press time.