Resource officer for Monte Vista High | October 3, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - October 3, 2008

Resource officer for Monte Vista High

School district, Danville and county will pay salary

by Harry Stoll

The school board took a positive step to overcome Monte Vista High's lack of a school resource officer when it voted Sept. 23 to partially fund a police officer. Monte Vista has no regularly assigned officer although such a presence is normal for high schools.

"If an incident occurred, I'd hate to have to say that we didn't have a school resource officer due to lack of funding," said Superintendent Steven Enoch, as he asked the San Ramon Valley Unified School District board to provide $35,000 toward payment of the officer for the balance of the school year. That amount is about 25 percent of the total cost.

Enoch said the annual cost of an officer is $186,000. That's not unusual, he noted, when considering all the costs.

School resource officers are sworn law enforcement officers with all the powers of that position. The officer would have a beat assignment of Monte Vista High during the school year and would be a member of the Danville Police Department.

"Remember that Danville contracts out for law enforcement services from the county," wrote Enoch in an e-mail subsequent to the meeting.

Danville Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said Danville police officers are employees of the Sheriff's Department but wear Danville uniforms, drive cars with Danville markings, and operate out of the town's police station. He said that Monte Vista High is within the town limits although the parking lot is not.

Danville pays for a resource officer for San Ramon Valley High, and the city of San Ramon finances officers for California and Dougherty Valley high schools. Because more than half of Monte Vista's students reside in unincorporated areas the county is being asked to provide half the funding, with the other half divided between Danville and the district. Calabrigo said that had been the prior arrangement.

Calabrigo said the town is amenable to paying one quarter of the cost but emphasized this would be only a temporary solution.

"Next year we'll be back to square one, without the funding," he said.

Enoch said he is "cautiously optimistic" after discussions with Calabrigo and Contra Costa County officials about the county and Danville paying the remainder.

School Board President Greg Marvel praised County Supervisor Mary Piepho's staff for its work in securing county funding for the position, in light of the county's tight budget.

Apparently the school board didn't know about the lack of a school resource officer at Monte Vista.

"I'm disappointed that we're just finding out about this," said Trustee Paul Gardner at the Sept. 23 meeting.

Enoch said the district would continue to rely on the Danville Police Department and the Sheriff's Office until the resource officer is in place.

"We have not had specific problems, but it is a large school and I believe it should have an SRO present," Enoch said.

At the meeting, the board also approved a change to board policy recommended by the district staff to tighten up proof of residency prior to a student being admitted. Time limits for applicants to provide the information were shortened.

Board members Joan Buchanan and Rachel Hurd contended that the language wasn't sufficiently rigorous and suggested some rewording. But Trustee Bill Clarkson said the board shouldn't be wordsmithing the policy and favored giving general guidance to the staff on wording. Buchanan and Hurd took a "buck stops here" stance and wanted final say on the wording. The proposed change was approved 3-2 with Marvel, Clarkson and Gardner voting Yes, and Buchanan and Hurd voting No.

The board also appointed Clarkson and Gardner to the Measure J Traffic Congestion Relief Agency. Alluding to schools contributing to congestion, Gardner said, "How do we get students from their neighborhoods to the schools?"

In other business, members of the Los Cerros Math Team - Carol Giannini, Robin Bovberg, Bunki Kramer, Jacqueline Angius and Sue O'Reilly - were recognized by the board for "making a positive difference for our students, schools and community."