CONCORD -- The city and Mt. Diablo Unified School District are working together to return three school resource officers to campuses in the fall.
Mayor Tim Grayson and school board member Cheryl Hansen have been discussing a proposal for Concord and the school district to evenly split the cost of the three positions. School resource officers work on campus and are responsible for crime prevention and investigating drug dealing and gang activity, among other duties.
Concord cut the funding for all five school resource officer positions in 2012 as the city struggled to balance its budget. The school district estimates that it would cost $240,000 per year to fund 1.5 school resource officer positions.
"In the down economy, we couldn't afford to keep police officers in the schools -- now, in light of the violence happening at schools across the U.S., we can't afford not to," Grayson said in a statement.
During the June 3 meeting, Grayson asked City Manager Valerie Barone and Police Chief Guy Swanger to work with the school district on an agreement to present to the City Council on June 24.
"As a teacher and former high school principal I do support the idea of having SROs in the schools. I know the value of them," Councilman Ron Leone said. "One of the advantages, of course, is a lot of the preventative measures that take place when you're in the schools and you know the kids and you're able to hear what's going on and prevent some of the things ahead of time."
Councilman Dan Helix praised Grayson for persuading the school district to partner with the city.
"I know that among many of the school principals this has been a sore subject because they feel that we were making great strides with the SROs and we just felt that it was a budget matter," Helix said.
On June 4, school board members discussed entering into an agreement with Concord to return school resource officers to Concord High, Ygnacio Valley and Mt. Diablo high schools. The board is scheduled to consider a contract with the city at its June 25 meeting.
"As I told Mayor Grayson, I think there's not a high school principal in the world who wouldn't be thrilled to have a good SRO come back on the campus," said Hansen, who has been an administrator in three districts that employed school resource officers.
"They prevent so many issues because they give you a heads-up and they build those relationships with students and students come to them and confide in them, and they get information that you'd never get otherwise. They are such an asset," she added.
Although the board members expressed support for the proposal, they want the principals to be involved in selecting the police officers who will be assigned to their campuses. School leaders also believe the officers should work on Fridays, when simmering conflicts often erupt on campus.
Since the district would be paying half the cost for the restored positions, school leaders questioned whether the resource officers would supervise athletic events and dances without charging overtime, and how they would spend their time when school isn't in session.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.