School officer plan in jeopardy in Waynesboro

January 23, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Frustrations with the Waynesboro Area School Board could kill a proposal to embed a police officer in Waynesboro schools, the local borough council president said.

"They want us to hire a police officer, but they don't want to communicate with us," Craig Newcomer, Waynesboro Borough Council president, said on Tuesday night.

The borough council is expected to decide tonight whether it would support a request to start utilizing a school resource officer in the 2008-09 school year. A grant application for funding the officer's salary, benefits and equipment must be submitted to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) by Friday.

The school board voted 8-1 on Tuesday, Jan. 15, in favor of seeking the grant. The matter went before the council on Wednesday, Jan. 16, because the grant requires a "memorandum of understanding" from the police department.


Newcomer said the council received a 30-page packet of information about the request less than 24 hours before its meeting. The councilmen scheduled tonight's 7:30 meeting to lend further consideration to the proposal and asked for school board members to attend.

"The invite of the board was to come to the meeting and they declined. ... We put together a special meeting because they sent us information at the last minute. We'll see who shows up," Newcomer said.

School Board President Stanley Barkdoll said Tuesday evening that none of his board members would be attending tonight's meeting. Instead, he said, representatives of the school district sat down with some from the borough on Tuesday morning.

Mayor Richard Starliper said that no decisions were made at the morning meeting and that he believed a joint discussion was still planned for tonight.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said only staff from both entities - no elected officials - met in the morning. He declined to divulge the nature of discussions from that meeting.

Schools Superintendent Barry Dallara said that staff members did meet with the borough, and he said board member K. Marilyn Smith and business administrator Caroline Dean will attend tonight's session.

On Tuesday morning, "I think a couple of folks got together to work on the memorandum of understanding, to draft how it would work," Dallara said.

Previous miscommunications squashed the same effort for the 2007-08 school year.

"We applied last year and got approval, but we didn't go ahead with it," Newcomer said last week.

That frustrated the PCCD representative who was trying to distribute the funding, Police Chief Ray Shultz said. He said he did not know what to tell the PCCD representative when she called repeatedly.

Smith said last week that the school board's support was never formally sought in 2007.

If awarded, the grant would require matching local contributions for part of the $66,000 annual figure provided by the commission. The local contributions would be 20 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 75 percent the third year, Smith said.

The grant program calls for the borough council to assign a current officer to the schools, then hire another to fill that position on the force.

"They're asking us to make a major decision for our taxpayers," Newcomer said.

Also, the school board said on Jan. 15 that it would eventually like to reach out to area municipalities for future funding for the position. The school district is comprised of the Mont Alto and Waynesboro boroughs as well as Quincy Township, Washington Township and a portion of Guilford Township.

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