BYRON -- Byron Union will retain its school resource officer for the remainder of the school year, as the Contra Costa sheriff's office announced last week it will pick up the tab.
The department will recommend to the board of supervisors putting P-6 Zone local tax money toward covering the position through June, according to sheriff's office officials.
The board will consider approval at its Tuesday meeting.
"It's important to us from a law enforcement perspective, to have the necessary services to keep the students and campuses safe," Contra Costa Assistant Sheriff Mark Williams said. "Having someone assigned to the three schools 40 hours a week provides a degree of security and comfort for parents as well."
Byron Union officials recently told the sheriff's office they were unable to secure funding for the rest of this year, meaning the officer would have been reassigned in January.
Since then, Sheriff David Livingston has been working with the offices of county Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay and state Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, to keep that officer on campuses.
"The Byron Union district is appreciative of the efforts of (Frazier, Livingston and Piepho) to enable the SRO position to remain," Superintendent Debbie Burnette said in a news release.
"Safeguarding the well-being of Byron Union's students and staff was my priority," added Frazier.
Though this year's cost is covered, Livingston and Piepho are urging Byron Union to find funding for future years.
The P-6, which manages taxes paid by residents in several Discovery Bay neighborhoods, has covered the bulk of the cost the past two years, with the rest being covered through groups such as parent-teacher associations and fundraising.
The district has put about $50,000 toward the position the last two years.
Piepho stressed that the sheriff's office has been carrying the schools with funds that not all residents pay, and the "brutal reality" is that the district needs to pay for their own services.
"Funding for this position is the district's responsibility and a long-term funding source must be identified by their governing board," Piepho said.
Until 2011, Byron Union had a five-year, $500,000 federal grant that paid for the bulk of the cost. After that, the district has turned to local agencies for help.
Since that time, it has been a yearly scramble to identify ways to pay for the $180,000 position, which includes the officer's salary, benefits, uniforms, car and more.
But, the services are vital -- especially for quick response in a spread-out, relatively secluded area of the county. Among the incidents mentioned by officials are the tragedy in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and a September crash outside of Excelsior Middle School in Byron that killed seventh-grader Burgess Hu.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.