Wilton officials mulling financial support for school resource officers

FILE - Wilton Town Board Member Ray O'Conor in 2019

FILE - Wilton Town Board Member Ray O'Conor in 2019

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WILTON — Following conversations with both the Saratoga Springs City and South Glens Falls Central school districts, Wilton town board members are contemplating whether to provide some sort of financial support for school resource officers.

“Me and the other four town board members are talking about the possibility of giving partial support in a partnership with both of the school districts to help financially and policy wise to support even a part-time presence of SROs in the two elementary schools in town,” said Ray O’Conor, a Wilton town board member. 

O’Conor spoke at a Saratoga Springs school district Board of Education meeting in October, noting the board’s interest in possibly paying for a school resource officer for Dorothy Nolan Elementary School, which lies within town boundaries. 

In January, the Saratoga Springs Board of Education narrowly voted to hire two additional SROs — one city officer to cover elementary schools within city limits and one from the county sheriff’s department to split time between Dorothy Nolan Elementary and Greenfield Elementary schools. 

However, the resolutions for the SROs stipulated no outside support from other municipalities. Prior to the vote, Board Member John Ellis raised concerns about the district footing the entire costs for the officers.

“We went into this saying we’re going to budget for this on our own because again you make a decision like that it has to be sustainable,” said Superintendent Michael Patton. 

Patton said the district is open to financial support from municipalities for SROs. 

“That’s something that they have to decide on,” he said. 

Glens Falls Central School District Superintendent Kristine Orr said the district is not looking at getting a second SRO, but that she wanted to do her “due diligence with the Town of Wilton and have a conversation about their interest in the town of Wilton SROs.”

The BOE and I discuss the need for additional SROs during every budget season to keep this a part of our safety conversation,” she said. 

She also said the district has a safety committee and gets reports from the SROs regularly. 

Over the last few years, Orr said the district has hired two elementary school counselors and four social workers. 

“We hope that this is a proactive approach to keeping students engaged in school and supporting them in all areas,” she said. 

O’Conor said if the town decides to provide financial support it would be toward the officer in the Saratoga Springs school district that will split time between Dorothy Nolan and Greenfield, rather than trying to get a full-time officer at Dorothy Nolan. But, he said the town has made no final decisions. 

“Step one is does this make sense as something to do,” he said. “Part two becomes if it makes sense to provide support, then how much support in terms of the dollar amount and the other issue is for what period of time?. Should it be for just the remainder of this school year? Should it be for this school year and next year or a three year period? None of those things have been discussed or nailed down. We’re at the very conceptual stage of this something we want to pursue.” 

If it does happen, O’Conor said one of the funding mechanisms the town could use is unspent American Rescue Plan Act money, which totals about $1 million. 

He said the town board meets Feb. 1, although it’s unclear if this topic will be discussed. 

“Deliberations over these sorts of things can take some time,” he said.

Categories: News, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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