Jay selectmen consider school officer request

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JAY – Selectmen took no action Monday on a request to put a question on the annual town meeting warrant to put a police officer in RSU 73 schools in Jay.

They wanted to look over the information provided by police Chief Larry White Sr. before making a decision. They will bring the matter up again at their meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Town Office.

The annual town meeting is in June.

The total cost for a school resource officer would be $83,049.94 with $30,000 of it paid for by the town and the rest by the school district. The figure includes all training, uniforms, overtime, insurances and other items.

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Selectman Tim DeMillo also pointed out that Jay would also pay a large amount of the school’s share since the town pays about 71 percent of the school budget for anything that exceeds the state’s funding formula.

Police Chief Larry White Sr. said he was approached by RSU 73 Superintendent Robert Wall shortly after the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month

White said he didn’t come to the board unaware of trying to keep taxes down and save money. But he did come to talk about the safety of students and school security.

“It is getting more violent every day,” White said.

There is an officer from the Jay Police Department who visits schools each week and another one will also visit.

The school is a short distance from the Police Station, he said, but every second counts. Putting an officer in the school full time would be a deterrent, White said.

The officer would serve the high, middle and elementary schools, which are near one another.

Wall said he has a meeting scheduled Tuesday to talk about security of the Livermore Elementary School in Livermore with law enforcement in Androscoggin County.

The resource officer position, if approved, would be posted in-house at the Jay Police Department. There has been some interest, White said, and if no one applied in-house, the intent would be to advertise and hire a seasoned officer.

The officer would serve the schools while in session and when school is out they would cover for officers on vacation and do whatever is needed, he said.

“I think there are a lot of people in town concerned about children” and their safety, White said.

“We have 1,200 students at the site next year,” Wall told selectmen. Where would you go where you have 1,200 people without some security?

Students would learn that law and order are an extension of society, he said.

“This is an opportunity to invest in their safety,” Wall said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt said he liked the idea of putting an enclosed walkway from the Spruce Mountain High School to the Spruce Mountain Middle School, which are next to each other.

Voters in RSU 73 will decide Tuesday, Jan. 15, on a proposed $1.8 million renovation project at the high school in Jay, which includes security upgrades.

The school officer would be with children when they went outside for recess at the Jay Elementary School, White said.

“A resource officer is part of the whole school society,” Wall said.

They eat lunch with students. They are available to talk with students who want to talk to them and work in classrooms but they are not teachers, he said.

The officer is not there to arrest anyone, Wall said, but could continue the effort to create a more positive atmosphere in school where drugs and alcohol don’t belong.

RSU 73 schools have added more security in recent years, including cameras and employee swipe cards to get into the schools when doors are locked.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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