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School resource officers to stay in schools in Cape

By Staff | Aug 18, 2009

School resource officers will remain in Cape Coral high schools and middle schools after the city council voted unanimously Monday to fully fund the program.
A proposal to have three SROs rotate among the six public middle schools was cast aside by council members last week during a workshop meeting in favor of complete funding for 11 SROs and one supervisor.
The entire cost of the program for the upcoming school year is $1.07 million.
The Lee County School Board will reimburse the city $433,950, about $39,500 per SRO, which means the city will pay the remaining $643,770.
The SRO program had previously been in danger of being eliminated completely as it was not included in City Manager Terry Stewart’s original proposed budget.
Although support for the program from the dais was unanimous, one council member was concerned about the spending needed to fund the SROs.
“My position on the SROs is I support the program. I think we can do it more efficiently in the future,” Councilmember Bill Deile said.
Deile mentioned eliminating overtime pay and vehicles for SROs as cost-cutting measures.
But Councilmember Tim Day said the vehicles are essential.
“The vehicle portion is an important deterrent. I wouldn’t agree with having an unmarked vehicle,” he said.
There was also support from residents for the program, but one citizen echoed Deile’s concern about cost, saying the school board should pony up for the entire program.
“I think (the school board) should provide all of the money. Instead of just an appetizer, let’s go for the entree,” Cape resident Mike Buchinski said.
Other residents were stalwart in their support.
“I think it’s a must. I don’t think it’s even an option to take them out of the middle schools,” said Cape resident Greg Callen.