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Alachua County School District and Sheriff's Office agree on school resource officer costs

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After ongoing negotiations, the Alachua County School Board and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office came to a consensus on how much each would pay on school resource officers Tuesday night.

Both entities are under a time crunch as school starts August 13.

“The sheriff had requested that the school district pay a higher percentage of what she said was the total cost of the program,” said Jackie Johnson, Alachua County School District spokeswoman. “The issue is, what really is the total cost of the program and how much of that is appropriate to ask the school board to fund.”

Last year the school district paid ACSO $332,319 to cover 16 schools with 18 deputies.

This year, ACSO asked for the district to contribute more to the program so each entity would pay equally, costing the district about $1.1 million

“There is a fixed cost for hiring a deputy and getting him in uniform and in a vehicle to where he can go out and work,” said Art Forgey of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. “Those deputies in those schools are no different. There is a cost that is associated with having them there.”

Johnson said the district is fine with kicking in a higher percentage…but percentage of what?

She asked if costs for uniforms and patrol cars fair for the district to contribute to?

“Those deputies spend nine months out of the year assigned to that school,” Forgey said. “Working with that school, training with the school and being a part of that school. We feel like 50/50 is a very fair split to the school board.”

The district settled to pay ACSO $894,590, a 170 percent increase from last year.

The district is also using school resources officers from the Gainesville and Alachua Police Department. Both departments asked for less money per officer.

To be fair, the district is now paying those departments more.

“The additional money that the board agreed to last night is going to have to come out of our general fund which is really what we use to pay for what we use in the classroom,” Johnson said.

The contract is being put on paper, it should be approved at the next school board meeting.

“This is the compromise that we’ve come up with,” Johnson said. “With the understanding that the district is going to be looking at perhaps some other options for the next school year.”

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