City looking for funds for school resource officers
Cape Coral’s fiscal year 2010 budget will not be passed until Sept. 23, but council members are already scrambling to make sure one program that was not in the original budget proposal makes the final cut.
School resource officers, police officers posted at Cape middle and high schools, were not in the budget proposal released last month, but with the start of a new school year two weeks away, city officials are trying to find ways to fund the program.
Police Chief Rob Petrovich told council members Monday during a workshop meeting that he will be able to fund the SROs by reducing overtime costs.
“It’s a matter of the level of service we can continue to provide to the schools,” he said.
The Lee County School Board reimburses the Cape $39,500 for each SRO.
If the full complement of 11 officers — five for each high school and six for each middle school in the Cape — were to be used, the total reimbursement would be about $433,000.
That still leaves about $493,000 left for the Cape to fund.
Petrovich and some council members said the cost of not having an SRO at every school is unquantifiable.
“What we can never measure is how many problems were averted because we were able to have an officer there,” Petrovich said.
After a proposal to have one SRO for every two middle schools was floated, council members expressed their preference for additional officers.
“In this day in age we don’t need to take our guys out of these middle schools,” Councilmember Tim Day said.
“This issue is about safety, period,” said Councilmember Derrick Donnell.
Others on the dais were concerned about tacitly approving a portion of the budget before it was time to pass the entire budget.
“Are we faced with a deadline now to sign some sort of interlocal agreement before we pass our budget?” Councilmember Pete Brandt asked Petrovich.
Because public schools start the new year Aug. 24, Petrovich suggested council members approve the measure Monday during their next voting meeting.