ALBEMARLE — At the March 2 meeting, the Albemarle City Council voted unanimously to contribute funding to supply a third school resource officer for the city’s schools.
“As Council may know, we currently have two resource officers — one at the high school and one at the middle school,” Albemarle Police Chief David Dulin said at the meeting. “We have been approached by Stanly County Schools for a grant that would fund a third SRO. And that SRO, I believe, would be shared between the two elementary schools — East Albemarle Elementary and Central Elementary School.”
Beverly Pennington, director of student services and athletics for Stanly County Schools, spoke after Dulin, explaining the details of how the position would be funded.
Pennington said the school district had applied for a grant with the state and found out in January that it had been approved. The state would be paying for two-thirds of the approximately $50,000 per year cost of the position — $33,333 — while the city and school system would split the other third — $16,667.
The two-year grant would cover the current school year and the next school year. With the current year reaching a close, Pennington and the commission discussed how that money would be spent.
“There really is no reason to split the cost for this year because the cost is not going to exceed the $33,333 for the school year,” Pennington said. “We are in March, and the state has given us, we have it in the bank, that $33,333.”
Because it would take some time to find an officer to cover the position, the salary likely wouldn’t need to cover more than a couple months, they said. Instead, the commission discussed using much of the grant for this year on a vehicle for the SRO.
“We had discussed the possibility, since we’re only going to get a few months of employment, you’ll have plenty of money left to purchase that vehicle in year one,” Pennington said.
Commissioners discussed how they had a similar SRO position 10 years earlier for the elementary schools, saying they want to start back up the programs that that officer had done for the students, including the DARE program for fifth graders.
When discussion was concluded, Councilman Bramlett made a motion to approve the funding, which was seconded by Councilman Lowder. All members voted for the motion.
The grant received by Stanly County Schools also provided another SRO for the district. The other officer went to Oakboro, where an officer was added to the Oakboro Choice STEM School in February.
After the 2021-22 school year, the grant money will run out and the district and city will have to decide whether or not to continue funding the position.
Pennington said they’d have the position “for the rest of the school year and all of next year, and then hopefully we’ll see that benefit and we can continue to partner to provide that service.”