School board anticipates paying half of SRO cost

Update: The meeting time has been changed from 7 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The school superintendent and police chief will discuss school resource officers at a special school board meeting April 30.

The board moved its meeting that was originally scheduled for April 22 to Tuesday, April 30. The location also was moved from the Parsons Complex to Milford City Hall to accommodate a larger crowd, in case residents come out in droves to hear about the special school officers, commonly called SROs.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.

The school board members will hear information from Dr. Betty Feser, superintendent of schools, as well as from police Chief Keith Mello, relating to the details involved with implementing school resource officers in the Milford public schools.

Several residents at a public budget hearing recently said they want the city to hire police officers to work in the city schools.

Buddy Prete told the Board of Aldermen at a 2013-14 budget meeting that he would like the city to fund school resource officers to protect students and to help out on city patrols when school is not in session.

Former Alderman Thomas Beirne spoke out for the SROs also, and he said he was discouraged that more people hadn’t shown up to make the same request.

“The purpose of government is to protect the people,” Beirne said, adding that SROs are more than just police officers who work in the schools. They also are there as mentors and to help spot children who may need counseling, he said.

But on the whole, the public hasn’t made much public comment about SROs.

After the shootings in Newtown, school officials said they want to hire SROs to work in Milford’s schools. City leaders said they support the idea, but so far money hasn’t been earmarked in the proposed budget to hire them.

Mello has found about $100,000 he said could be used for the new officers, but it is estimated it would cost the city about $300,000 for the salaries and benefits for four officers.

School Board Chairman Tracy Casey said she believes the school board will be asked to pay half the cost — $150,000 — and she believes the budget can be re-prioritized to support that.

She invited Milford’s aldermen to the April 30 meeting because she thought it wise that they, too, hear the police chief’s presentation.

There will be a public comment portion for residents to voice their opinions on the SRO program, too.