Fredonia schools stalling on officer post

After months, which have now turned into years, I have sadly concluded that the Fredonia Central School District Board of Education does not want a School Resource Officer as part of its staff. If indeed they acknowledged the value of this position, it would have been filled without any hesitation.

As a new school year rapidly approaches, the talk now turns to a civil service position, one which needs to be created, posted, tests administered, a list of potential candidates developed and then MAYBE a suitable candidate will find favor with the board. This process, realistically, delays any hope of the position being filled by September.

Throughout this delayed resolution, I have attended numerous board meetings, discussed this need at the village level and continue to hear from parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents and school personnel who want a SRO position in place. The people attending Board of Education meetings have been from all segments of the community. Other governing entities have shown interest in finding a solution to the hiring of a SRO. Collaboration is possible but only if the board sets realistic goals regarding salary and acknowledges the importance of a SRO employee.

The amount now quoted is $30,000 for someone who would be available five hours per day. The school day is much longer than the suggested coverage time being considered and a retired officer (if available) could be a candidate.

It is time to make the Fredonia school community a priority. Stop eroding the value of a SRO. A trained law enforcement officer, currently in the field, brings experience in and knowledge of today’s world; a priceless asset and one which should be the primary criteria. If other school districts throughout Chautauqua County are able to fill a SRO position, most at twice or three times the salary, shouldn’t the students and staff at Fredonia Central Schools be a priority as well?

The Fredonia school board’s Mission Statement reads: “The FCSD and community will maintain a continuing partnership to provide an educational environment for the children of the community, which will ensure that all children are valued, all children learn and all children possess the knowledge and attitudes needed to reach their full potential intellectually, personally, socially and productively.”

The key words, to me, are community, partnership and environment. If we as the “community” do not support providing the safest “environment” possible for our students and school personnel, then we have allowed the Board of Education to rewrite the meaning of SRO — Selectively, Routinely, Obstructing a much needed and soundly supported School Resource Officer position.

Maureen Blackburn is a Fredonia resident.