BUCKFIELD — The Regional School Unit 10 board of directors Monday budgeted $50,000 for one school resource officer for Rumford area schools and one for Buckfield area schools next fall.
Superintendent Deborah Alden said one officer would cover Mountain Valley High School and Rumford Elementary School in Rumford, Mountain Valley Middle School and Meroby Elementary School in Mexico, and the other would cover Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner.
Mountain Valley High School Principal Matthew Gilbert told the board he would like to have a resource officer in his school.
“But I want to make sure that it’s not just as a security officer but it’s another adult in the building that’s carrying (a gun) and at the same time that is specifically trained to respond to a crisis involving a weapon and involving a physical threat toward another student,” Gilbert said. “We have a lot of teachers that care about kids but we aren’t trained to face down a bad guy.”
School board Director Charles Maddaus of Sumner said hiring a resource officer is “such an emotional issue right now, but I’m not clear that the school district should be paying for (a resource officer) unless it’s for security as we’ve used it in the past, for a high-leverage football or basketball game.”
Seneca Jacobs, a Buckfield Junior-Senior High School student and school board representative, said having an officer in schools would benefit students.
“I think that having a resource officer would make kids feel a lot safer,” she said, “and when kids feel a lot safer it will account for better learning because when kids are afraid that something is going to happen they have that in the back of their mind and that can take them away from learning.”
To help fund the positions, the Rumford Police Department will apply for a grant to pay part of the cost of Rumford-Mexico schools and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department is also applying for a grant to help fund the position for the Buckfield and Sumner schools, board Chairman Jerry Wiley of Buckfield said.
In other business, the board approved maintaining a full-time director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for next year. The position would be paid, in part, by federal funds, saving the district $20,000.
The proposed district budget for 2018-19 stands at $26.53 million, which would increase town assessments an average of 4.09 percent over this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Alden said Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Leanne Condon “is extremely efficient” and administrators would not be able to pick up her duties if the position was made part time.
“I can’t do any of (the director’s work), I just can’t get to it,” Alden said.
Meroby Elementary School Principal Kim Fuller agreed that a full-time director was necessary.
Rumford Elementary School Principal Jill Bartash agreed, saying, “Cuts at this point will be devastating to kids in school.”
Other possible budget cuts considered by the board were school field trips; librarians and junior varsity sports at the middle and high schools.
The board will finalize the budget April 9 at Pennacook Learning Center in Rumford.