BY STACI WILSON
The Montrose School Board finance committee met Monday, June 4, to review potential changes to the district’s budget for the upcoming school year, as well as the deficit that would require use of fund balance monies to balance out the expenditures.
At the June 11 business meeting, the board will vote on the adoption of a proposed $26.5 million budget. District business manager Michelle Lusk went over some of the changes, as well as budget variables, in the upcoming budget with the board members.
Members of the public and board members also discussed the School Resource Officer position in the district. The proposed budget has about $90,000 allocated.
Superintendent Carol Boyce reminded board members that the budget serves as a spending plan, but not a “mandate,” and items – such as the SRO position – included in the budget could be decided by the board at a later date.
Board member Richard Jordan asked that the SRO funding remain in the budget, contingent on the district reaching a contractual agreement with the county.
One audience member said every school district in the county would be adding an SRO, and questioned the board’s priority regarding safety.
The Blue Ridge School District has utilized a SRO for the past year. The resource officer is a county detective employed in the district attorney’s office.
The Susquehanna Community School District has opted to continue its contract with the Lanesboro Police Department, which provides security at the district, instead of moving to add a resource officer.
Another audience member said she was “not wild” about adding the school resource officer, saying she was not convinced the schools would actually be safer, but said people may feel safer with an officer in the buildings.
During discussion, board and audience members conjured up various safety and weapon scenarios, offering up, “What if five kids jump the officer?” and “What if a gun goes off and another kid is shot?”
“What if 20 kids get shot because you didn’t put a (SRO) in?” replied an audience member.
Finance committee chair Paul Adams said, “We want to best solution to make this work, it’s not all about money.”
Board members at the committee meeting said they are weighing input from community members carefully to make the best decision for the district.
The school board will meet for its regular work session and monthly business meeting on Monday, June 11, 6 p.m., at the Choconut Valley Elementary School.