School board members refuted a recent suggestion by city officials to have Burbank Unified help cover the cost of three school resource officers who would work in Burbank schools.
Last fall, Burbank won a grant to partially fund the officers for the next few years.
However, the grant requires a $1.2-million local match, spurring Burbank City Council late last month to turn to the school district to help split the price — much to the dismay of some school board members.
Historically, the school resource officers have been paid for by the city. During the last decade, with ongoing budget cuts to the police department, the number of officers has reduced from six to one.
“I’m very disturbed about the language that came out at the council [meeting] when they talked about it,” said school board member Larry Applebaum. “They made it sound like we’re going to be derelict in our responsibility to the safety of children if we don’t pony up dollars.”
He added that the resource officers never have been the school district’s financial responsibility, and he doesn’t plan to change that.
“As one board member, I’m not going to allow that to occur now,” he said.
Although school officials spoke of the importance of the officers, who establish relationships with students and address crime on campus, they said they would be unable to afford them with their own budget woes and ongoing structural deficit.
“I’d like to see the program come to fruition, but I don’t see any way that we can pay for it,” said school board member Ted Bunch.
“I think this is the police department’s responsibility, provided that they have the manpower and funding to do it,” fellow member Charlene Tabet said.
Josephine Wilson, a Burbank police administrator who helped secure the grant, said the program may not go into effect by July 2015, giving police officials time to make sure they have the staffing and money for the additional positions.
She said it was never the police department’s intention to seek funding from the school district, and that the department applied for the grant on behalf of the city.
“Obviously, we cannot preclude council members from giving us direction, but it was never our recommendation, at that point, that we are going to be seeking funding as part of that grant approval.”
Glendale Unified Supt. Jan Britz supports the memorandum of understanding between the police and the district that board members reviewed last Thursday, regarding the program.
However, the obligation to pay for more school-resource officers “just doesn’t fit in our budget with all the cuts and the programs we need to put back.”
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.
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