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School board approves SRO funds for city

By Staff | Sep 23, 2009

Tuesday night marked the final stage of authorizing the Student Resource Officer program when the Lee County School Board approved a local agreement with the Cape Coral Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Cape Coral City Council debated whether to eliminate the SRO program last month after council members found that the city manager’s preliminary budget did not set aside funds for the program.
One proposal through the city council was to have three officers rotate among six public schools in Cape Coral, but that idea was cast aside and the program was reauthorized Aug. 19.
During Tuesday’s meeting, school board members approved the local agreement for a total price of $1.1 million. Out of these funds the school board will reimburse the city $433,950 or approximately $35,000 per officer.
The city of Cape Coral will spend $643,770 on the SRO program. According to the school district’s motion, there will be 11 officers in city middle and high schools.
The DARE program was removed from an SRO’s responsibilities and duties, while the school board added responsibilities related to the new zero-tolerance legislation.
School board member Robert Chilmonik, whose district encompasses most of Cape Coral, stated that “the program was the same” from the year before.
The board did not have an extensive discussion on the SRO program, but one consultant asked the members to consider using private security officers instead of law enforcement officers.
“Of course, I believe children’s safety and security in schools is of utmost importance, but I am asking you take this off of consent and bidding it out for private security,” said Brian Mayberry of Whitestone Group, a national security agency.
Schools serviced by the Cape Coral Police Department include Alternative Learning Center West, Caloosa Middle, Cape Coral High, Challenger Middle, Diplomat Middle, Gulf Middle, Ida S. Baker High, Island Coast High, Mariner High, Mariner Middle and Trafalgar Middle.