Allenstown boards seek agreement on terms to bring back school resource officer

  • The school resource officer would split time between the middle school, called Armand R. Dupont School, and Allenstown Elementary School. NICK REID—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The school and select boards in Allenstown are negotiating a contract to bring back the school resource officer in accordance with a call from voters at town meeting.

The district lost its school-based police officer at the end of last year, when the school board determined during a budget crunch that it would be impossible to maintain the position.

The voters at the January deliberative session, however, added $78,000 into the schools’ budget to make sure that didn’t happen. Jim Boisvert, the resident who made the successful motion, said it wouldn’t be worth it to forgo the D.A.R.E. program and the other benefits the officer brought to the school.

Now, the two boards are working to agree to terms, since the position will fall under the town’s police department and yet be paid out of the school’s budget.

After town meeting, the select and school boards met jointly to discuss the proposal. At its meeting Monday, the select board discussed the changes that it is recommending for the contract before the school board’s next meeting.

Whereas the town previously paid the school resource officer for the 10 weeks during the summertime – when there is no school and the officer works out of the police department – that situation is set to change in the town’s proposal. The town is seeking for the school district to pay the entire calendar year, Town Administrator Shaun Mulholland said, because the voters added the full annual cost of the position to the school budget.

“The town’s position is you have the money, you pay the whole year,” he said.

The town’s police department already had a vacant position when it learned last year that the school resource officer wouldn’t be continuing at the school, so it moved that officer back onto the regular force.

Mulholland said the town is seeking a three-year contract with the school going forward, because if that officer moves back to the school again, it’ll take nearly a full year and upwards of $30,000 to train a replacement.

Select board Chairman Jason Tardiff said of his board’s proposed changes: “In my opinion, there’s no room to negotiate on these.”

School board members agreed at the deliberative session that the school resource officer was an important presence at the school. Member Tom Gilligan said the officer’s contribution “was almost immeasurable.”

But when it came time to attempt to maintain $9.5 million operating budget, “it literally came down to a budget item,” he said.

The budget that the school board presented – cutting the school resource officer and the equivalent of 1.2 teaching positions also – was already over the board’s target at $9.7 million.

The proposed contract, with the select board’s changes, can be viewed on the town’s website, attached to the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)